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Last week, thousands of Americans came together in Washington, D.C. for the first ever United State of Women conference, a day-long celebration of what women have achieved and a conversation about the important work we still need to do to reach gender equality.

I’m happy to say that like many agencies throughout the Federal Government, as an active member of the White House Council on Women and Girls, OPM participated in the lead-up to this historic event. We provided information about the status of women in the Federal service – from narrowing the gender pay gap to flexibilities and work-life programs that make it easier for women – and men – to succeed in the workplace, to the Federal Government’s record of hiring women, especially in some mission critical positions.

As you’ll see in the Women in the Federal Workforce infographics, today the 897,892 women who work for the Federal Government make up 44 percent of the entire Federal workforce. Women are succeeding across government – from entry-level positions to various leadership roles. Here are just a couple of examples:

  • The number of Federal women working in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics – or STEM – fields is on the rise. In 2008, 64,574 were working in Federal STEM jobs. That number rose to 70,047 in 2015. Women have been hired at an increasing rate into the Pathways Programs, including the Presidential Management Fellows (PMF) programs. The PMF is the Federal Government’s flagship leadership development program, which has a special STEM track.

  • The  representation  of  women  in  the Senior Executive Service (SES), the  Federal Government’s highest  career  level, increased by five percent between  2008  and  2015. And OPM is working with agencies across government to increase awareness of leadership development programs like Executive Women in Motion and other mentoring and training opportunities.

By creating opportunity at every level of the workforce, we are working to attract, empower, and retain a talented and productive workforce.  Our commitment to workplace flexibilities and employee wellness makes the Federal service an ideal place for employees to build their careers and cultivate fulfilling lives outside the workplace.

Building on directives from the President, OPM developed two comprehensive handbooks and an online training course to help Federal employees better understand their leave and workplace flexibility options, including providing support for elder care, childbirth, adoption, and foster care.

The government continues to be a model employer for men and women in helping them maintain a healthy work-life balance and feel fulfilled in their jobs. Data from the Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey (FEVS) shows that satisfaction with Federal work-life programs is very high among women – and men - who participate in programs such as flexible work schedules, telework, health and wellness programs, the Employee Assistance Program (EAP), child care programs, and elder care programs.

The data also shows that the gender pay gap in the Federal government continues to narrow. In 2014, nationally, women were paid 79 cents for every dollar a man was paid. In 2015, across the Federal Government, women in white-collar jobs were paid 89 cents on the dollar. With more women than ever contributing to the government’s mission critical occupations, the gender pay gap continues to narrow even more for women working in STEM, IT/cyber security, economist, auditor, contract specialist, and human resources positions jobs. In the Senior Executive Service, as of 2015, women were paid equally with their male counterparts.

In April of 2014, in response to a memorandum from the President, OPM issued a Governmentwide Strategy on Advancing Pay Equality in the Federal Government. Since that strategy was issued, OPM has taken a number of actions to narrow the gender pay gap in the Federal workforce. For example, on July 30, 2015, we issued a memorandum cautioning agencies not to solely use a job candidate’s existing salary to set pay, as that can potentially adversely affect candidates who may have taken time off from their careers or whose existing salary doesn’t reflect an applicant’s current qualifications.  


The summit shone a spotlight on the accomplishments women have made in the workplace and on the work still to be done. At OPM and across the Federal Government, we continue to work to make sure all employees are aware of the workplace flexibilities they may be eligible for, and to encourage women – and men – to work in the many mission critical occupations and to apply for leadership positions.


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