WASHINGTON (AP) — Women in the federal workforce continue to face more obstacles than men in reaching top positions and salaries despite making strides over the years, according to a government report released Thursday.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said a major challenge hindering advancement was the lack of flexibility for women raising young children. The report says agencies should expand job-sharing and telework policies, offer different start and end times for workers and create satellite work centers that would reduce commutes.
The report also identified a lack of mentoring and training as key factors limiting many women who want to reach higher levels and management posts. Women are less likely to be groomed for management positions because they don't have mentoring relationships with officials already in those posts, the report found.
Women make up nearly 44 percent of the federal workforce in 2011 but comprise only 30 percent of Senior Executive Service positions, according to EEOC figures from 2011. Those are high-level federal managers who serve just below presidential appointees. Women hold about 38 percent of GS-14 and GS-15 positions, the top pay scales in the main federal pay system.
The report recommends that federal agencies set up formal mentoring programs and monitor how effective they are in increasing opportunities for women.
"It's fair to say that women do fare better in the federal workforce compared to the private sector based on anecdotal evidence, studies and data, but advancements still need to be made," said David B. Grinberg, spokesman for the EEOC's Office of Federal Operations.
Grinberg said women generally are better paid and attain higher positions in the federal sector because of the government's extensive equal opportunity program.
The report was prepared by a working group of federal equal employment opportunity directors and government program managers charged with helping increase employment for underrepresented groups. Federal officials also heard from advocacy groups including Federally Employed Women, the Equal Rights Center and Blacks in Government.