The role of women in the federal government’s workforce has changed drastically since 1967, a landmark year in the fight against gender discrimination.
Former President Lyndon Johnson signed Executive Order 11375 that October, banning sex discrimination within the federal government.
The march of progress has since lead to the #MeToo movement, a global phenomenon sparked on social media last year.
#MeToo is an ongoing reckoning about sexual assault and harassment – including within the government workforce – that strives to help victims and end sexual violence.
Federally Employed Women (FEW) is a nonprofit advocacy group that has seen these changes firsthand since launching in 1968 after Johnson’s measure.
FEW works to ensure federal agencies do not discriminate against their female employees, and the organization has become a force for government women since starting nearly five decades ago.
Adrianne Callahan, FEW’s National Training Program (NTP) Chair, said this history is not lost on her organization, which is approaching its 50th anniversary.
The NTP is FEW’s annual training conference aimed at helping government employees advance professionally, improve themselves and navigate their workplaces.
“We’ve seen attendance numbers as low as 250 to as high as almost 3,000 to 4,000 attendees,” she said of the NTP’s success over the years. “The organization of course has been in existence for 50 years.”
“It’s an outstanding accomplishment for a nonprofit organization, one of the few organizations that has been working on behalf of advocating for federally employed women within the federal government,” she added.
This year’s NTP takes place in Atlanta from July 16 to 20, and #MeToo is a significant topic at the event.
“Each year we pick an issue, an organization, something to lend our support, to show how we stand in solidarity,” Callahan said. “And this year, FEW is supporting the #MeToo movement.”
Callahan said NTP attendees are encouraged to wear black on Tuesday, July 17 to honor #MeToo, while purple is the recommended color for Wednesday, July 18.
Purple represents activities raising awareness about sexual abuse and harassment, Callahan continued, and the 2018 NTP will also feature #MeToo-related trainings for attendees.
Training Sessions Focus on Hard and Soft Skills
“FEW maps every training session to the guidelines of the Office of Personnel Management’s Senior Executive Service, Executive Core Qualifications (Leading Change, Leading People, Results Driven, Business Acumen, Building Coalitions) and the underlying fundamental core competencies,” according to this year’s event description.
Callahan noted the 2018 NTP is open to everyone, including men and professionals outside the government.
“[Everyone can] find a course or two or three that fits their training needs,” she said. “We focus on leadership, communication skills, team building and even political savvy.”
“[There are] lots of different areas which are included within the OPM competencies that you can apply not only to a federal government career, but to any career,” Callahan added.
Callahan said NTP sessions also focus on grant writing, professional development and retirement planning after leaving the federal workforce.
The 2018 NTP, she added, will specifically update attendees on how society is complying with the federal government’s laws against workplace sex discrimination.
“We focus on equal opportunity, the Equal Pay Act, affirmative employment, policies and procedures, things of that nature usually covered under compliance,” she said. “And this year our speaker will focus on where we are in today’s society with that particular focus area.”
Callahan said speakers at next month’s conference include motivational speaker Rhonda Hight.
Hight is the founder of Let’s Talk, LLC, a company dedicated to human resources consulting, leadership and professional development.
The 2018 NTP’s sessions offer feds a wide range of hard and soft skill training programs aimed at boosting their personal and professional growth.
Sessions focused on practical skillsets include “Excel Advanced Formulas and Functions,” “Data Analytics with PowerPivot in Excel 2016,” and “Visio Essentials.”
Events centered on navigating workplace culture, meanwhile, include “The Power of Assertive Communication,” “Mindfulness,” and “Positive Approaches to Difficult People.”
FEW is also conducting several sessions concerned with discrimination, including “Prevention of Workplace Harassment,” “Bullying/Cyberbullying,” and “Diversity and Inclusion.”
Feds concerned about their future, meanwhile, can attend several seminars addressing topics like health care and post-career planning.
Callahan said the benefits of FEW’s NTP draw from expertise inside and outside the government to help both rookie and veteran feds.
“We have trainers that are both within the public and private sector,” she said. “We have some of our sponsors who provide training and that can be from career development to personal development.”
“FEW has prided itself on providing informal networking opportunities as well as informal mentoring throughout the years,” Callahan added of the NTP’s benefits. “We have a great time. We have fun.”
For more articles about Federally Employed Women and the 49th National Training Program, click here.