Narrowing Down of Gender Biased Disparities in US Federal and Civil services

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Narrowing Down of Gender Biased Disparities in US Federal and Civil services

Narrowing Down of Gender Biased Disparities in US Federal and Civil Services The early 1970s witnessed a male dominant workforce in all departments of civil and federal services in the United States. Authoritative positions were held mainly by men. ‘Sex Based Glass Ceilings in the US State Level Bureaucracies 1987-1997’ written by Margaret Reed et al. (2004) has relevant data from the US Government offices. The authors analyzed the data and concluded that this gap has narrowed down significantly with women breaking the impediments in the glass ceilings prevalent in administrative positions.

According to him, the glass ceiling is not that pervasive in distributive and regulatory agencies but very less pervasive in the services of redistributive agency which will be discussed later in this paper. Mani (2004) in his ‘Women in the Federal Civil Service’, analyses more about the influence of veterans preference to see if it stands as an impediment to women’s career in the federal civil services. Lewis and Oh (2008) exclusively discuss about the male-female pay differences in their paper ‘A Major Difference?

’ They deal effectively with pay disparities. For this, they makes an in depth study of different major subjects in colleges that brings a change in salary and administrative positions. He uses samples of different races, whites and blacks, and Hispanics in his analysis and proves that there is no disparity among races in terms of salary or status. All the three papers propose a common positive trend in women’s education level, salary, status, higher positions in civil and federal workforce.

Each paper is exclusive in describing a unique sub-topic with significance and data analysis. Women are close to men in almost all departments thereby bridging the gender gap between 1990 and 2000. All the three papers with data show the disparities and gender differences between 1970 and 1990 that gradually reduced and the percentage variation is insignificant in the year 2000. Reed et al. ’s (2004) paper can be considered as a main discussion of the topic where he touches upon women’s employment, pay disparities and impediments to glass ceilings.

Reed (2004) brings about the discussion on glass ceiling and glass wall that existed in three different agencies. The other two papers: ‘A Major Difference? ’ and ‘Women in the Federal Civil Service’ can be considered as a supportive or additional research without much contradictory opinions though each paper touches upon distinctive subtopics distinctively. The data analysis in all the three papers almost arrive at the same percentage of variation between men and women in salary, education in civil and federal workforce.

All the three essays borrowed data from government offices like U. S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission EEOC national (data set for Sex Based Glass Ceilings in the US State Level Bureaucracies 1987-1997’), US Office of Personnel Management (data set for ‘ Major Difference’) and US Office of Personnel Management (data set for ‘Women in the Federal Services’) This data is useful in performing analysis of employees by job category, functional policy areas, salary levels, sex, number of male-female veterans, and male-female non-veterans.

This data is not available in the open. It has been provided to the authors on request by the respective universities. This data helps to conduct Significance Test, Logistic Regression tests, Chi-square test and t test to come up with statistical evidence supporting their statements. Reed et al. (2004) use this data to arrive at ceiling ratios while discussing about pay disparities between male and female.

When we discuss about gender disparities, or women’s impediments to acquire managerial positions, a common opinion is cited as a drawback in women: they are lack of commitment to affirmative action, lack of developmental assignments, gender biased organization cultures and stereotypes, outright discrimination, assuming leadership roles and welfare composition (Reed et al. 2004). Mani (2004) is also of the same view when he discusses about the reason for gender wage gap. According to him, sex discrimination in hiring and promotions, shortcomings in public policies and social changes played a major role between 1970 and 1990.

While discussing pay disparities and acquiring higher positions that remain in disfavor of women, we need to consider that women were in the habit of selecting arts and social subjects in colleges that relatively fetched lower salary and lower administrative positions compared to men who were in the habit of selecting computer science, business and other professional studies. The second factor is that women are mostly connected with familial tie-ups and involved in childbearing, preferring to travel less, etc.

automatically kept them away from competing with men for parity in pay or the highest positions in administrative levels. In 1990s, the above-said factors did not stand in the way of women to keep them away from competition. Many women started choosing professional colleges and decided to work in areas where men alone where dominant. Education played a major role in bridging the gap between men and women in pay disparities and higher positions in administrative levels. However, reaching top most authoritative levels was decided on various other factors that led to the disappointment of women.

The percentage of gap un-bridged can be considered as due to the shortcomings in public policies and social changes as suggested by Mani (2004). Lewis and Oh (2008) in his exclusive study on pay differences, also attributes the unexplainable gaps in pay disparities to sexual discrimination and difference in government treatment of apparently compatible men and women. All three studies agree that this kind of partial treatment to women has reduced significantly and women are well placed in terms of education, pay, and administrative positions in the late 1990s.

The percentage of development in every decade from 1970 is shown through analysis of data. Mani (2004) analyzes the influence of veterans in the civil life to see if it stands as an impediment to women’s opportunity of becoming a top level managers. Earlier in 1970s and 1980s there was considerable reason to believe that veterans had the advantage in federal civil service over non-veterans. The case started reversing in the 1990s with non- veterans getting more salaries and more job advantages. This is because, the women came stronger in studies in all departments.

The growing number of women in public and their demands were heeded and respected by the government. The impediments came to a halt with the implementation of Equal Pay Act. Besides, George Bush signed Civil Rights acts of 1991 which allowed women to challenge unfavorable decisions in the bureaucracy and in the courts. Mani (2004) has ultimately concluded his views on veterans and their changing state is in the civil society with time. He proves with the empirical data that veterans no longer remain as an impediment for women in obtaining success in the civil and federal positions.

Reed (2004) raises the question of women and their under representation as institutionalized democratic practices when it comes to high level positions. He used two models (i) socio-psychological model that emphasizes the importance of organizational culture that exclude women, and (ii) the systemic model that focuses on the distribution of power and opportunities available to women. Unlike Lewis and Oh (2008), and Mani et al. (2004), Reed (2004) gets into details of three different agencies and the opportunities and positions held by women in them.

Regulatory agencies such as police are considered to be a male dominant workforces. Obviously, the presence of glass ceilings is more visible here. The redistributive agency includes management of public welfare programs, rehabilitation, public health services etc that involve more service related jobs where women are appointed traditionally at various levels. The glass ceilings are less pervasive in top administrative positions in redistributive agency. These disparities stated by Reed (2004) are narrowed down in 1990s.

Distributive agencies involve construction, repair and administration of bridges, community development, etc in which men use to be dominant. The authors clearly observe the presence of glass wall and an impervious glass ceiling to get into top level management positions. Lewis and Oh (2008) do not segregate in detail, the three agencies via regulatory, distributive and redistributive agencies and so failed to categorize women where their representation, for example departments like police protection, fire, dept, etc was minimum.

Without these information, one does not get to know that women are doing fairly well to reach management positions in redistributive agencies. From all the three papers, we understand that there is an increase in percentage of women in all positions of workforce. The empirical data suggests that the percentage increase is gradual from 1970 through the years and in 1995, women were earning about 89% of salary compared to men. Women too started obtaining higher degrees from colleges. Their presence was seen in many upper management positions.

However women have not advanced into the highest and most prestigious positions in organizations. According to Reed (2004), the government is becoming creative in implementing strategies to reduce the gender gap but these efforts are not uniformly distributed in all the states. Many women, about 3 million, as teachers, are not included in the data considered for analysis. This is a significant population that chose teaching profession for convenience and so the percentage of variation in disparities between men and women could have been improved if this work force is distributed in other civilian jobs.

The proportion of women in various jobs determines various other factors. Mani (2004) has disclosed the veterans and their status in the civil services after the post Vietnam war. His paper helps to understand how the early veterans without much education levels happened to claim up the ladder in civilian positions. We also come know of the rigorous training the veterans possessed to meet the requirements once they come out to the civil life.

However, at a later stage, the non-veterans had the advantage over veterans by virtue of their higher education, experience in civil environment and the change of law that preferred veterans in selection procedures. The transition is shown with the help of data available from the U. S. Office of Personal Management Central Personal Data File (OPM CPDF). Comparison among male veterans, male non-veterans, female veterans, female non-veterans with and without considering sex aspect give a clear picture of preferences and impediments over the decades.

The scenario in 1995 shows that the disparities among all the four groups have been settled in such a way that one group does not hinder the prospect of the other group while competing for civilian jobs and in promotions. There was a significant difference in salary between men and women after all the analysis conducted by Mani (2004). Like in other papers, Mani (2004) too agrees with sex discrimination, the shortcomings in the public policies and social changes that impact women’s career.

But his opinion is slightly different compared to the other two: after 1998, there was still occupational segregation and salary disparities between men and women. The other two papers showed that much of the gender gap is narrowed down around 1999, whereas Mani (2004) still shows differences that requires rectification from the government side. All the three papers with data and analysis reveal the changes in social and cultural changes through the history of United States.

All the three papers used more or less the similar data borrowed from the government departments. This can be considered as a major drawback in the results obtained. If each paper used a different data from different sources to conduct statistical analysis, it would have been more appealing. All the three papers do not consider or omit a few factors evenly while doing the analysis. For example, the 3 million teachers (Reed, 2004) avoided in one paper is a wise decision which is not found in the case of other two papers.

All the three papers are trying to arrive at showing the percentage of gap narrowing down in disparities between male and female without considering similar factors in the analysis. This cannot be taken strongly for absolute results. However, the data from the government sources and its utilization in analyzing the subject to provide with statistics at various levels certainly convince the readers that there is improvement in lessening of glass walls and ceilings, equality in pay and acquiring top level management positions in the civil and federal workforce.

References Lewis, B. & Oh, S. S. , (2008). A Major Difference? Fields of Study and Male–Female Pay Differences in Federal Employment. Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University, Atlanta. Mani, B. G. (2004). Women in the Federal Civil Service: Career Advancement, Veterans’ Preference, and Education. Reid, M. (2004). Sex-based Glass Ceilings in US State-Level Bureacracies, 1987-1991. Administration and Society.


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  • University/College: University of Chicago

  • Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter

  • Date: 4 October 2016

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