Playing from the Blue Tees: Women in the Federal Government
Throughout the past decade, workplace diversity issues have allowed organizations to adjust their policies in response to the need for workplace equality in all aspects. As a result of the dynamic political, social and economic changes, some companies have willingly become more inclusive, integrating women, people of color, gays/lesbians, and individuals with disabilities into their workforce at all levels of their organizations. However, others have failed to make this paradigm shift.
The Federal government has failed to see the benefits of a diverse workforce, which is evident by the lack of diversity of the people it serves. Research by the Center for Creative Leadership (2002), show women in business have been required to adapt to a well established hierarchal system built around the strengths of its majority of male players. As women have entered the workplace, they initially try to create only a modest variant in a male dominated workplace. Gender diversity could be very beneficial to the Federal government, causing greater creativity in group decision-making and improved task performance.
Leadership is usually considered to be predominantly a male prerogative in corporate, political, military, and other sectors of our society. This might explain why, although women have gained increased access to supervisory and middle management positions, they remain underrepresented in leadership positions. Throughout history, women have been contributors to society, helped shaped America, and exercised their power and their abilities through various interests. But the recognition as leaders is still slow to come.
Women are still confronted by an invisible barrier preventing their rise into leadership ranks the "glass ceiling." However, studies indicate that women are inching through the glass ceiling that has prevented them from attaining leadership positions. When we look at the surveys and research, women seem to have progressed in the last couple of years in terms of management positions. The caveat however is, women who achieve these positions are usually placed under closer scrutiny and their evaluation is not always positive. While studies propose that women are likely to receive positive evaluations when their leadership roles are defined in feminine terms, on traditional, masculine measures of leadership, women's leadership is often perceived to be lower than their male counterparts.
Some women have developed strategies for overcoming workplace barriers to career advancement and achieved senior positions. While these barriers do not restrict the careers of all women that they impact, a significant number is evident from the poor representation of women at senior levels. The limited number of women reaching the highest positions in the government indicates that further attention to overcoming these barriers in the future is necessary.
Ms. Lewis is President and CEO of The Deline Institute for Professional Development, a training organization that provides workshops and seminars geared toward professional businesswomen. Ms. Lewis is a native of New Orleans, Louisiana. She is an Adjunct Professor at National-Louis University, where she teaches Human Resource Management. Ms. Lewis has conducted training for the Federal government on Diversity, as well as EEO regulations and guidelines. Ms. Lewis is a certified trainer with the Professional Women Network, specializing in the area of Diversity with an emphasis in Women's Issues. Ms. Lewis is a member of the Professional Woman Network and Professional Woman Speakers Bureau; the National Association of Female Executives; The African American Federal Executive Association and Federally Employed Women. Ms. Lewis' knowledge of business and professionalism is supported by 21 years of work experience in the military and 18 years of continuous work experience as a civilian with the Federal government.
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