Click here to skip navigation
An official website of the United States Government.
Skip Navigation

In This Section

Our Director Director's Blog

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/

The background is a close up of two windows of OPM's headquarters in Washington D.C. reflected in the window is American and OPM flags waving in the wind. Beside the building is blue sky and in black text:

Every day, the 2.1 million women and men of the Federal Workforce tackle some of our country’s most pressing issues. Whether caring for our veterans, supporting our troops, fighting forest fires, or planning a mission to Mars, Federal employees are focused on making life better for the American people.

In a 2014 address, President Obama said: “To rise to meet the challenges of the 21st century, we need a Federal Workforce with the necessary skills, experience, and tools to meet its diverse mission now and in the future.”  At the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), we work to fulfill this vision. Our mission is to help agencies recruit, retain, and honor a world-class Federal workforce to serve the American people.

Today, OPM has joined our sister agencies in sketching out for the American people a summary of the efforts we have made during this administration to fulfill the President’s vision.

Over the past eight years, our overarching focus has been to modernize the way OPM supports agencies, current and former Federal employees, and their families. By embracing new ways to use data to make decisions, investing in new tools and technologies, and streamlining our processes, we have helped foster a workforce capable of tackling 21st century challenges. In particular, we have focused on:

  • Making the Federal Government a model employer by adopting workplace policies that reflect the modern American economy;

     

  • Strengthening the personnel system to improve Federal agencies’ capacity to recruit, hire, develop, engage, and retain workforces ready to meet 21st century challenges;

     

  • Building a roadmap to better protecting the integrity of the Federal workforce by modernizing the way the government performs background investigations;

     

  • Improving our operations by embracing new tools and technology and enhancing our focus on customer service and cyber security.

The memorandum goes into detail about our agency-wide efforts. I want to highlight just some of the work we’ve done. You can see a fuller description of these efforts and what we see as the best way to continue this journey in OPM’s full memorandum.

In striving to make the Federal government a model employer, OPM has expanded opportunities for people from all elements of society. We’ve made progress in closing the gender pay gap, increased workplace flexibilities to help employees balance their work life and home life. We’ve also promoted diversity and inclusion in the Federal workforce.

Strengthening the personnel system needs to reinforce and build on the merit system principles that represent the bedrock values that have long stood as the foundation of this nation’s civil service system.

Through our Pathways programs we’ve created clearer paths to Federal careers for students and recent graduates and enabled the government to compete more effectively with the private sector for this talent. We’ve brought experts from the private sector into government through innovative fellowship programs. And we established a hiring excellence campaign to help human resources specialists and managers hire the critical talent they need.

The events of recent years have underscored the need to guard against threats to the Federal Government’s personnel, property, and information systems. OPM plays a central role in protecting against threats as we conduct 95 percent of the Federal Government’s background investigations that help agencies make employment, security clearance, and credentialing decisions. By establishing the National Background Investigations Bureau (NBIB) and continuing to modernize the background investigations process, OPM has come a long way in helping the Federal Government build and maintain a trusted workforce.

At OPM customer service is at the heart of everything we do. OPM has embraced new tools and technologies to help deliver better customer service and better secure the information we house. We’ve made significant progress in modernizing and securing information technology systems. We continue to provide high quality health benefits for the 9.2 million Federal employees, retirees and their families who are enrolled in the Federal Employment health Benefit program.

These are some of the highlights of the work OPM has done during this administration to fulfill our mission to recruit, hire, develop, retain and honor the men and women who work every day to deliver excellent service to the American people.

There is much more work to be done. I am confident that the dedicated men and women of OPM will continue in their efforts to build an even greater workforce now, and in the future.

 


Control Panel

Unexpected Error

There was an unexpected error when performing your action.

Your error has been logged and the appropriate people notified. You may close this message and try your command again, perhaps after refreshing the page. If you continue to experience issues, please notify the site administrator.

Working...