Women have yet to get anywhere near parity in numbers with their male colleagues in the federal workforce, especially in certain tech jobs.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has issued a new report highlighting progress—and lack thereof—in hiring and retaining women in STEM jobs across federal agencies, clarifying that in many technical occupations women remain few.
Overall, women make up 29.4% of all federal STEM jobs, the report finds. However, in technical positions—as opposed to scientific and math slots—women are found in much lower numbers than men.
Not only are women in lower numbers, they are paid less—with a gap averaging $4,305. And in another disappointment, if the data are sorted to look for leadership roles, women comprise just 25% of such posts.
The EEOC report delves deeper into the data, spotlighting the damage done by harassment and other negative workplace experiences. A whole range of harassment is in play.
“While sexual harassment is often perceived as the most common issue women face in the workplace, the data shows that generalized harassment was actually a larger issue in FY 2019,” the report points out. “In total, female federal employees filed 1,986 complaints due to generalized harassment, compared to 358 complaints for sexual harassment. In addition, promotion was an issue in 465 complaints.”
In any case, among women who filed any of these various types of on-the-job complaints, there are far higher percentages who also report an intention to separate from their agency and seek employment elsewhere.
Through statistics such as these, the report illustrates a clear need for the development of better working conditions in order to hire and retain more women in STEM jobs across most agencies.
For example, women remain 40% less likely than men to work in federal engineering jobs. managers consulted for the report expressed surprise at the sheer sweep of the lack of women across many stripes of hands-on technical jobs—with much reduced percentages compared with more pure science and math slots.
“We anticipate that the information and analyses herein will be helpful to federal agencies as they embark upon their own barrier analyses of Women in STEM occupations,” the report stated. “This report is intended to assist federal agencies’ continuing efforts to make the federal government a model EEO employer and able to compete with the private sector for critical talent.”
“There were significantly fewer women in technology and engineering than we expected. Clearly, the federal government shares the same challenges as the private sector in improving representation of women in STEM occupations,” Carlton Hadden, director of the EEOC’s Office of Federal Operations, said in a release regarding the report. “We hope this report helps federal agencies better understand the challenges facing women in STEM so they can continue to foster an even more welcoming and diverse work environment.”
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