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Women in Federal Service

National Women's History Month 2017: Honoring Trailblazing Women in Labor and Business

Each March, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management honors Women’s History Month by recognizing the invaluable contributions of women who have inspired and shaped our Nation through civil service.  Women’s History Month honors and celebrates the struggles and achievements of women throughout the history of the United States. 

Since the passage of the Pendleton Act of 1883, it has been a fundamental value of civil service to draw from all segments of society, where selection and career advancement of Federal employees are “determined solely on the basis of relative ability, knowledge and skills.”  The second person ever to be appointed to the U.S. Civil Service, and first ever woman, was Mary F. Hoyt.  Miss Hoyt earned her job because of the score she received on the first official competitive examination.  On September 5, 1883, Miss Hoyt was appointed to the Treasury Department as a clerk for a salary of $900 a year.    

While you don’t need to look back over 130 years to find incredible examples of leadership, service, and innovation from women in public service, I would like to highlight a few for you. Each one is a pioneer in her own way, but all have displayed the courage and determination it takes to break barriers on the way to greatness.

Frances Perkins was the first woman appointed to the U.S. Cabinet and was the Secretary of Labor for 12 years – the longest tenure in the history of that agency. During that time, Perkins fought for laws to set minimum wages, pensions, unemployment insurance, restrictions on child labor practices, and contributed to the creation of the Social Security Act of 1935.

Betty Mae Tiger Jumper lived a life of firsts: the first Seminole to graduate high school, read and write English, and get certified as a public nurse. She went on to initiate the beginnings of the Indian Health Care Program. Jumper became the first female elected tribal Chief in the U.S. and served on the National Congress on Indian Opportunity, where she created the United Southeastern Tribes coalition, which today consists of more than 26 tribes.

Ellen Ochoa became the first Hispanic American woman to fly in space, where she logged nearly 1,000 hours on four missions. She is the current Director of the Johnson Space Center – the first Hispanic and second woman to hold that position. Ochoa is a co-inventor on three patents, and her research has led to critical developments in optical systems for automated space exploration.

During my 25 years as a civil servant, I have had the opportunity to work for and with many amazing Federal employees, many of whom have been women. Merit System Principles are honored and the United States is well-served when agencies select employees based on merit, and not gender. The Federal government continues to aspire to be the model employer where, regardless of gender, employees are afforded the opportunity for a challenging and rewarding career in service of our country. 

As we prepare for the future challenges facing our country, let us pause and reflect on the women who have inspired us all to go further, take risks, and do more good. I invite you to join us in honoring those women who inspire you as we observe Women’s History Month, whether they are famous historical figures or those who work in the cubicle next to you.

For information on Women’s History Month, please visit: http://womenshistorymonth.gov/

Director Archuleta meets with a woman serving in the U.S. Air Force. 

It’s inspiring to see that after serving their country nobly in the armed forces, so many women and men veterans choose to continue working for the American people through Federal civil service.

The President has made increasing the hiring of veterans, and particularly women veterans, a top priority.  As a result, in fiscal year 2014, one in three new Federal hires was a veteran. The actual rate was 33.2 percent, up from 31 percent in fiscal year 2013.

As leaders of the President’s Council on Veterans Employment, we share the President’s commitment to making sure that women leaving the military can easily transition to the Federal civil service.  That’s why we created a women veterans initiative led by the Department of Homeland Security. Through that initiative, the Council today released a report that shows that nearly 24 percent of veterans hired in the civilian workforce in fiscal year 2013 were women vets, although women represent just 9 percent of all veterans.

We can build on that. We know that women in general are underrepresented in the Federal workforce, especially in the skilled trades and law enforcement – two areas where many women veterans have significant expertise. We also know that women are statistically less likely to report their service when applying for new positions. We want to encourage them to make their military service known. We also want to help them find new opportunities to continue to serve their country through civilian public service, using the skills they honed while serving their country in the military.

To enhance efforts to hire more women veterans in the Federal Government, the Council’s report recommends adding a section on women veterans to the Veterans Recruitment and Employment Strategic Plan. Going forward, we will design strategies to recruit women veterans for positions across the government and improve outreach to women veterans by building on relationships with veterans service organizations, colleges, universities, trade schools, and affinity groups. In addition, the report recommends that we gather data from Federal agencies to continue to improve our recruitment strategies for women veterans now, and in the years to come.

Veterans are just one of the many communities that will benefit from the work OPM is doing under its Recruitment, Engagement, Diversity, and Inclusion – or REDI – Roadmap. By improving hiring tools like USAJOBS.gov, OPM will make the process of finding a job in the Federal Government much easier for everyone, including veterans.

We may never be able to fully repay our nation’s veterans for the sacrifices they have made, but we can ensure that we do all that we can to make their transition to Federal civilian service as seamless and fulfilling as possible.

Thomas Perez is the Secretary of Labor and Co-Chair of the President’s Council on Veterans Employment.

Robert McDonald is the Secretary of Veterans Affairs and Co-Chair of the President’s Council on Veterans Employment.

Katherine Archuleta is Director of the Office of Personnel Management and Vice-Chair of the President’s Council on Veterans Employment.


I am excited today to release an insightful report on Women in Federal Service, which draws on OPM’s deep reservoir of data to shine a light on opportunities for women in Federal service. One of my top priorities as Director of OPM is to make sure women have a seat at every decision table. This report not only illustrates our significant progress toward that goal, but also points to what we still need to accomplish.

For me, the first step in any challenge is to take a look at the data. We looked at how women are doing in the Federal workforce from the perspectives of work-life flexibilities, opportunities to move into leadership, and pay equity.

The data revealed some positive and gratifying trend lines. Women are increasingly moving into leadership roles compared to their counterparts a decade ago. Today, they make up 34.4 percent of senior executives in the Federal Government, compared to estimates of 14.6 percent in the private sector. Younger women are doing especially well. Women entering the workforce now are more likely to be on a management track than they were a decade ago. And while we are proud of the progress we’ve made, the data shows a lingering gender gap within our Senior Executive Service. Clearly, we have work to do.  

We’ve also made great progress closing the pay gap between women and men, especially in leadership positions. Within the Senior Executive Service, the pay gap is nearly non-existent. As of 2012, women made 99.2 cents on the dollar compared to men. The gap has also closed dramatically among women in the 25-to-34 age bracket, showing that younger women are more likely to be paid similarly to their male counterparts. We’re thrilled to see so much progress.

We also know that work-life flexibilities are crucial for women – and men. They want the ability to manage their personal lives outside of work, whether that means helping to take care of children or older parents. Among women who take advantage of workplace flexibility programs, more than three-quarters are satisfied with those opportunities. 

This report is just the start. I’m committed to making sure opportunities for women in government continue to grow. Last month, I unveiled the REDI Roadmap, which stands for Recruitment, Engagement, Diversity, and Inclusion and provides a data-driven strategy for helping agencies reach one of President Obama’s major workforce goals: a diverse and inclusive Federal workforce at every level of government.

We want to make sure that women are fully represented at every level of government to create a stronger Federal service.

This is an infographic of the Women's Report from the 2014 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey results. The top of the infographic shows the web address to the Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey website at www.opm.gov/fevs and hashtag #FEVS.The infographic has 4 sections. In section 1, the title reads, Women in Federal Service, A Seat at Every Table. United States Office of Personnel Management. This section also shows a series of women and men avatars seated around a table.  OPM Director Katherine Archuleta's quote reads:  We're working hard to remove the barriers to women having seats at decision tables at every level of Federal service. In section 2, the Title reads, Leadership. Image of a pie chart that shows 14.6 percent of women executives in the private sector. Another image of a pie chart which shows 34 percent of women executives in senior executive service positions in the Federal workforce. Also in section 2, the Title reads, Workplace Flexibilities. Image of a bar chart which represents men and women who are satisfied with workplace flexibilities, like telework, child care, and the alternative work schedule. Section 3 shows images of people representing Federal employees and their family members, from babies to the elderly who benefit from work life policies. OPM Director Katherine Archuleta's quote reads,  our work life policies are continually evolving to make the balance of caring for families and pursuing a career complementary, rather than contradictory. In section 4, the title reads, Closing the Pay Gap. The subtitle reads, Federal Women Executives in senior executive service positions. Image 1 shows the amount of money females in senior executive service positions were paid to the dollar compared to their male counterparts. In 1992, it was 97.6 cents. In 2012, it was 99.2 cents. Under the subtitle, Federal Women in White Collar Jobs, in 1992, women in White Collar Jobs were paid 70 cents to the dollar. In 2012, Women in White Collar Jobs were paid 87 cents to the dollar. This section also shows women and men avatars seated around a table. Images of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management's social media accounts. Find U.S. OPM on Twitter at https://twitter.com/usopm. Find OPM Director on Twitter at https://twitter.com/OPMDirector. Find us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/USOPM. Find us on Twitter at https://twitter.com/usopm. Find us on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/company/opm. Find us on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/user/USOPM, and find us on Instagram at https://instagram.com/opmdirector/.The very bottom of the infographic shows the web address to the Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey website at www.opm.gov/fevs and hashtag #FEVS.


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