A new report on gender equality in the federal government has found that while "overt bias" is no longer rampant, "the vision of a workforce in which women are fully represented and utilized has not been wholly achieved."
The study, conducted by the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board based on survey data and interviews with employees and managers, found significant improvement from the last time the study was undertaken, 1992, but identified plenty of room for improvement.
For example, in 1990 only 11 percent of senior managers in the federal government were women; now women make up nearly a third. Women are now 44 percent of professional and administrative jobs, up from 20 percent in 1990. The report says that it's largely due to a narrowing education and experience gap between men and women, although some occupations within the federal government, many of them lucrative, have few women in their ranks. Also, notes The Washington Post,
The median salary for women in professional and administrative jobs has climbed to 93 percent of that of men in 2009, up from 83 percent in 1991. But the persistent wage gap concerned the merit board.
Here's an interesting graph on self-perception of sex-discrimination. Wow, men certainly felt a rise of sex discrimination in the mid-nineties. Too many Michael Douglas movies?
A separate report prepared by Deloitte sheds light on some of the reasons why that might be the case: it "found that women are less likely than men to think they have the power to make and be consulted on decisions at work. Women also are less likely to feel comfortable blowing the whistle on wrongdoing and more skeptical than men that arbitrary actions, favoritism and political coercion are not tolerated in the workplace." All of these are plausibly roadblocks on the path to a higher salary and more seniority.
Speaking of women in top jobs in the federal government, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recently said that while the U.S. will hold off for now on an endorsement to succeed Dominique Strauss-Kahn at the IMF, the government would "welcome women who are well-qualified and experienced to head major organizations such as the IMF. French finance minister Christine Lagarde is considered a frontrunner.
Women In The Federal Government: Ambitions And Achievements [MSPB]
Report: Overt Bias Against Women Has Faded, But Issues of Pay And Promotion Remain [WP]
Study: Top Federal Jobs Elude Women [Bloomberg]
US Won't Endorse Anyone Now But Clinton Says US Welcomes Qualified Women In Top Jobs [WP]