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New EEOC Report Examines Barriers Facing Women in Federal Government Public Safety Occupations

Barriers and Recommendations Identified by Focus Groups

WASHINGTON -- In its continuing effort to aid the federal government in serving as a model employer, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) today issued its federally focused report addressing equal employment opportunities for women in various public safety occupations.

The report, entitled Recruitment & Hiring Gender Disparities in Public Safety Occupations, is intended to serve as a government-wide resource guide of leading practices for federal agencies when recruiting and hiring for these positions. The EEOC conducted legal and social science research and met with focus groups of EEO directors, human resources staff, and public safety employees within selected Federal government agencies as part of its evaluation. The focus group participants reported possible barriers and suggested leading practices that may help increase female participation in public safety occupations government-wide.

The following are barriers identified in the Recruitment & Hiring Gender Disparities in Public Safety Occupations report:

  • lack of work-life balance for women in public safety positions;
  • misperceptions that women are uncomfortable with carrying firearms;
  • misperceptions that women are uncomfortable with physically strenuous job functions;
  • hiring officials' concerns that women cannot meet rigorous fitness exam requirements; and
  • too few initiatives that are aimed at the recruitment of women.

Several recommendations from the EEOC's focus groups to improve the recruitment and hiring of women in public safety occupations include:

  • coordinating a Government-wide cadet program;
  • targeting outreach as early as the grade school level;
  • targeting recruitment of women at the college level;
  • increasing the visibility of women recruiters;
  • setting diversity strategy goals tied to recruitment and hiring;
  • making an administration-wide push;
  • using one-stop, one-day hiring processes; and
  • using social media.

The EEOC plans to finalize a second report on promotion and retention in federal public safety positions later this fiscal year.

The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov. Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by subscribing to our email updates.