High-paying jobs and supervisory positions are out of reach for many women working for the U.S. government, according to an independent agency tasked with examining the status of public-sector female employees.
“The glass ceiling has been fractured, but it has not been shattered,” according to a report released today by the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board. “The glass ceiling persists for reasons other than discrimination.”
The report found that women hold about 30 percent of positions in the senior executive service, a gain from 11 percent of women in high-level positions in 1990, according to the agency’s previous review issued in 1992.
A wage gap persists, the board concluded. “Within a given occupation, women often have lower salaries than men,” according to today’s report, “and those salary differences cannot be fully explained by differences in measurable factors such as experience and education.”
Fewer women report being subjected to discrimination and stereotypes, reflecting progress toward a workplace in which hiring and promotions are based solely on abilities and accomplishments, according to the report.
The agency found that gender differences in education and experience are diminishing in the federal labor force. Women have made “great strides” in becoming physicians and attorneys.
In other fields, such as law enforcement, information technology and engineering, women remain “relatively scarce," the board said.
‘‘Occupational differences can complicate recruitment and create glass walls -- barriers to movement across organizations, functions, or occupations -- within the federal workforce, resulting in different opportunities for women and men, even if they are comparable in terms of education attainment, years of experience and performance,” according to the report.
Prejudice hasn’t disappeared, the board said. “Even in the absence of overt discrimination, many employees continue to believe that women are subjected to unfounded assumptions about their abilities or dedication to work,” according to the report.
The board analyzed workforce data and federal employee perceptions of their experiences in the government.
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