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Report: Female feds still struggle for workplace equality

The EEOC finds that women are still not advancing to upper echelons as often as their male counterparts.

Dec. 27, 2013 - 06:00AM   |  
By SEAN REILLY   |   Comments
Women at federal agencies are less likely to advance to senior ranks than their male counterparts, the EEOC found.
Women at federal agencies are less likely to advance to senior ranks than their male counterparts, the EEOC found. (Wavebreakmedia Ltd / Getty Images/Wavebreak Media)

Women still find it harder than men do to reach upper-level and management jobs in the federal government, suffer from inflexible workplace polices and face “unconscious gender bias,” a recent review by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has found.

Despite enormous strides, women still face hurdles in their quest for equal employment opportunities in the federal workforce, according to the report by the EEOC women’s work group. The group urges more research into possible solutions.

The review, launched in 2010 by EEOC’s Office of Federal Operations to identify roadblocks for women, draws on previously compiled research, discussions with federal EEO directors and input from outside organizations such as Federally Employed Women.

At the top of the list of major obstacles: Trying to balance work and home life, particularly when agency policies provide little leeway in juggling the two. Women who work part-time or take advantage of flexible work arrangements because of caregiving responsibilities “are often considered less committed to their jobs than full-time employees with traditional work schedules,” the report said.

Women are also under-represented at top levels of government. While women made up almost 44 percent of the federal workforce in 2011, they held just 30 percent of Senior Executive Service jobs and only 38 percent of GS-14 and GS-15 positions, according to statistics cited in the review. The group found that women are less likely to have mentoring relationships with people already in management. They are also less likely to be invited to networking events or get the kind of training or developmental assignments that would prime them for senior posts, according to the report.

And despite the government’s commitment to equal opportunity, women nonetheless face unconscious stereotyping that assumes they are not suited for top jobs because those are “non-traditional.” Among other steps, the work group recommended training to sensitize all federal employees to the potential for unconscious bias.

Read the report: Click Here .

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