The 5 Things Successful Women in Government Do

By Dana Grinshpan

February 4, 2013

When it comes to women’s achievements, few compare to the rising roles of women in government. In Obama’s first term cabinet, five women were tasked with providing the president key insight into running government. Although the path to gender parity in government leadership positions is slow, women continue to make strides in in achieving top positions. However, January saw an exodus of high-profile female members of the president’s cabinet, including Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson, Labor Secretary Hilda Solis and Deputy Chief of Staff Nancy-Ann DeParle. So far, no cabinet appointments have made up for the gap in exiting female leadership. White House press secretary Jay carney has asked the public to reserve judgment until more appointments are made.

With judgment reserved, one can’t help but wonder about women’s role in federal leadership. Often, high performing federal officials are plucked from agencies to fill second term appointments.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), women make up about 44 percent of the federal workforce. Therefore, women are almost on equal playing field with men to compete for these positions. And yet a gap persists.

Education is not the reason. On average, working women tend to be more educated than men.  In 1970, 22 percent of women in the labor force had either attended some college or graduated with a degree. By 2010, about 67 percent of women now have at least some college education.  

The much-maligned “Old Boys’ Club” may account for the problem and the solution. The “Old Boy’s Club” establishes relationships on the golf course and not in the office. It fosters relationship-building for the sake of business and much of the time, joins mentors with willing professional novices.

Therein lies the opportunity. In government and the corporate world alike, those who rise to top leadership positions don’t just get there via a laundry list of accomplishments. They ride there by taking initiative as well as with the help of their network. Building a network, however, is more than just exchanging business cards. Here are five things that all successful women do to rise to the top:

Excellence in Government will be providing another opportunity for women to network and learn best management practices. On May 13-14, men and women across government will join for a 2-day conference to take place at the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington, D.C. The event’s mission is to provide current and rising federal leaders with the latest skills and best practices. Find out more about it and sign up for updates on the conference at ExcellenceinGov.com. The conference is free to attendees.

Have any thoughts on what we should cover at Excellence in Government? We welcome your ideas, case studies, questions and feedback at contactus@excellenceingov.com.


By Dana Grinshpan

February 4, 2013

http://www.govexec.com/excellence/promising-practices/2013/02/5-things-successful-women-government-do/61079/