Gender Gap Affects IT Shops, Where Women Remain Scarce


Men and women divide most starkly on leadership issues, including fairness and empowerment.

The latest survey of federal worker perceptions, which shows that women report lower levels of empowerment and workplace fairness than their male colleagues, is bad news for CIOs and other technology leaders.

While the report was not specific to the federal IT workforce, it certainly can be applied, as women continue to remain relatively scarce in federal job fields like IT and engineering. Ensuring that men and women feel they are on equal footing in areas like fairness, leadership and empowerment is critical to recruiting and retaining women in federal IT careers.

The latest Best Places to Work in the Federal Government snapshot, released Friday by the Partnership for Public Service and Deloitte, found a four-point gap between male and female federal workers in the ways they view leadership issues like fairness and empowerment.

The largest gaps occurred on the perception of fairness, with women scoring five points lower when asked if they felt comfortable disclosing violations of laws, and four points lower when asked if arbitrary action, personal favoritism and coercion were tolerated. Scores on these issues varied by agency, the analysis found.

In addition, the Partnership and Deloitte found that Asian federal employees register the highest levels of satisfaction among all racial groups. African American, Hispanic or Latino and white employees all registered nearly identical scores that were about four points lower.

Veterans, who comprise nearly 30 percent of the federal workforce, rated their overall satisfaction about the same as their non-veteran counterparts. Veterans rated their agencies higher than non-veterans in the areas of empowerment and fairness, while non-veterans rated senior leaders slightly higher than their veteran peers.

The report offers recommendations for improving diversity and inclusion in the federal workplace, including analyzing agency survey data to drive decision-making, establishing a shared vision on diversity among agency leaders and actively recruiting and developing a diverse workforce.

“Progress will occur when leaders take greater personal responsibility and accountability, when diversity is more fully incorporated in recruiting and hiring, and when employees from diverse backgrounds have increased access to career development opportunities,” the report states.   

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