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A forum for government's best ideas and most innovative leaders.

For The First Time Ever, a Larger Share of American Women Have College Degrees Than Men

Women have out-enrolled men at the undergraduate level in the USsince the late 1970s, but only in the past year has the percentage of women with a bachelor’s degree in the US surpassed the percentage of men with one. In 2014, 32% of women in the US had attainted a bachelor’s degree or higher compared to 31.9% of men, according todata from the US Census Bureau.

World Bank data show women outnumber men in the US by about 0.5% of the total population. So, although the total number of women with degrees surpassed men over a decade ago, only recently did this number become statistically significant. For reference, the difference of 0.1% represents about 8 million more women than men.

More of the US population is going to college today than ever before. The percentage of adults 25 and older in the US with at least a bachelor’s degree topped 30% in 2011. And the number of those who are women has been steadily creeping higher faster than men. In 1960, there were 1.6 male undergraduates in the US for every female undergraduate. By 2000, there were 1.3 female undergraduates...

How to Bridge the Generation Gap

If there is one common challenge facing public sector organizations today, it’s this: A growing crisis in staffing levels due to accelerating retirement rates and continued tight budgets.

Two statistics show the significance of these factors:

  • As of mid-2014, there were 500,000 fewer local government employees nationwide than in 2008.
  • In some state agencies, it is estimated that more than 40 percent of the workforce will be eligible for retirement by 2017.

With 8,000 baby boomers retiring each day, managing a multigenerational workplace is becoming even more crucial for government agencies. But while businesses, schools and health care organizations have made progress attracting younger employees, governments are falling behind. Less than 6 percent of college graduates surveyed in 2014 report interest in federal, state or local service compared with 37 percent for private industry and 20 percent for health care.

Millennials (born from 1981-1997) have some distinct differences from other generations. Millennials grew up in the information age with constant connection to social media. They are highly social and impatient, always looking for entertainment, connectivity and technology. To this group, experience is priceless. They are used to constant feedback and rapid career progression. All of these characteristics...

A Psychologist Explains Why Emotions Are More Persuasive Than Logic

Even if you have all the facts, you may not convince others to agree with your argument. It’s frustrating, but according to Rob Yeung, a chartered psychologist and author of the recently published book How to Stand Out, it happens more than we would like. It turns out that the most effective strategy may be to use emotion, not logic, to make your case.

“If you think about most big topics, people are not persuaded by logic,” Yeung tells Quartz from London. “Most people in the Western world know that smoking cigarettes is bad for you and understand the principles of weight loss. But that’s not enough to motivate them to change. People do not listen to facts. You need an emotional angle.”

This theory is backed up by neuroscience: Researchers have found that patients who cannot process emotions also struggle to make decisions, suggesting that emotions play a key role in our decision-making abilities.

Yeung says that deciding which emotion to deploy in any given argument depends on the situation. Just remember, you have many options, so choose wisely. “Is it to get them angry about social injustice, is it to use humor to make them engage...

Apples, Oranges and Kumquats: Analyzing Federal Pay

News stories about federal pay and benefits are rarely comical, but every now and then they highlight a claim that is so blatantly political that I have to smile. The latest is about a Cato report focusing on the gap between the average wage for federal civilian employees, $84,153, and the average for the private sector, $56,350 — almost a 50 percent difference.

The report also compares the average total wages and benefits for government workers, $119,934, and for private sector workers, $67,246.

The numbers are based on Bureau of Economic Analysis data. What is not clarified in the data is the impact of part-time employees. The reported compensation levels are for full-time equivalent employees. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are almost 20 million part-time workers in the private sector — roughly 16 percent of that workforce. They are typically paid less than a full-time employee ($791 versus $240 per week in 2014), and the common benefits are provided to less than half. Federal agencies have comparatively few part-time workers. That has to pull down the private sector averages.

The demographics of the federal workforce are also an issue. Federal workers are older, have longer...

The Alchemy of Great Leadership

Alchemy, according to Malouin in the Encyclopedia of Diderot, is the chemistry of the subtlest kind which allows one to observe extraordinary chemical operations at a more rapid pace — ones that require a long time for nature to produce.

Newsflash, there are no shortcuts to great leadership. Much like the failure to change nature’s principles in search of longevity or turning lead into gold, one’s ability lead develops slowly over time and with much strain.

10 Lessons Learned in Search of Success as a Leader:

 1. You’re always an apprentice. If you think you’ve mastered this, you’re failing. Approach each day eager to learn another lesson, and you will. Approach each day assuming you’ve got this role licked, and you’ll get clobbered when you least expect it.

2. Great leaders require great missions. It’s the humdrum of the mundane of the status quo that squashes the spirits of leaders and the people around them. If you’re not on a mission, create one. If you’re leading others, know that your job is to define the mission. Not the mission statement, the mission.

 3. The only job harder than leading is likely...