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Ensuring Women a Seat at Every Table

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I am excited to release an insightful report on Women in federal service, which draws on the Office of Personnel Management’s deep reservoir of data to shine a light on opportunities for women in federal service. One of my top priorities as director of OPM is to make sure women have a seat at every decision table. This report not only illustrates our significant progress toward that goal, but also points to what we still need to accomplish.

For me, the first step in any challenge is to take a look at the data. We looked at how women are doing in the federal workforce from the perspectives of work-life flexibilities, opportunities to move into leadership, and pay equity.

The data revealed some positive and gratifying trend lines. Women are increasingly moving into leadership roles compared to their counterparts a decade ago. Today, they make up 34.4 percent of senior executives in the federal government, compared to estimates of 14.6 percent in the private sector. Younger women are doing especially well. Women entering the workforce now are more likely to be on a management track than they were a decade ago. And while we are proud of the progress we’ve made, the data shows a lingering gender gap within our Senior Executive Service. Clearly, we have work to do.  

We’ve also made great progress closing the pay gap between women and men, especially in leadership positions. Within the Senior Executive Service, the pay gap is nearly nonexistent. As of 2012, women made 99.2 cents on the dollar compared to men. The gap has also closed dramatically among women in the 25-to-34 age bracket, showing that younger women are more likely to be paid similarly to their male counterparts. We’re thrilled to see so much progress.

We also know that work-life flexibilities are crucial for women—and men. They want the ability to manage their personal lives outside of work, whether that means helping to take care of children or older parents. Among women who take advantage of workplace flexibility programs, more than three-quarters are satisfied with those opportunities. 

This report is just the start. I’m committed to making sure opportunities for women in government continue to grow. Recently, I unveiled the REDI Roadmap, which stands for Recruitment, Engagement, Diversity and Inclusion and provides a data-driven strategy for helping agencies reach one of President Obama’s major workforce goals: a diverse and inclusive federal workforce at every level of government.

We want to make sure that women are fully represented at every level of government to create a stronger federal service.

(Image via lenetstan/Shutterstock.com)

Katherine Archuleta is former director of the Office of Personnel Management. She is the first Latina to lead the agency and has dedicated herself to being a champion of a diverse, engaged and inclusive federal workforce. Archuleta began her career in public service as a school teacher in Denver. She has worked for two Denver mayors, founded nonprofit organizations and was a key administrator for the departments of Transportation, Energy and Labor.

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