By Meghan Droste, September 19, 2018

Summer is a slow time. I generally find that my office phone rings far less often during the summer and the pace of work is just a little different.  It appears that the same may hold true for EEOC decisions. Checking for recent decisions to write this article, I found that either the EEOC did not issue any last month, or the folks at Lexis are a bit behind in posting them. Either way, my search for an update for you all led me away from OFO decisions and instead to the EEOC’s June 2018 report Recruitment & Hiring Gender Disparities in Public Safety Occupations.  While it might not seem like a page turner from the title (which, I would also add, should refer to sex rather than gender) the report genuinely is interesting.

The EEOC examined employment data for 10 public safety position categories at 14 agencies. The positions included correctional officers, park rangers, fire protection and prevention, and border patrol agents. The agencies included the Department of Agriculture, the Department of the Interior, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Environmental Protection Agency. The report examines both recent and historical hiring data for these positions at these agencies. The EEOC also conducted focus groups of representative female employees and individuals in the position to impact recruitment.

The Commission found a 1% decrease in the percentage of public safety positions held by women from 2012 to 2016, going from 14% to 13% across the relevant agencies.  Customs and Border Patrol had the lowest number of female employees in the examined positions, with women comprising only 5% of border patrol agents, and no women serving in border protection interdiction positions.  The Fish and Wildlife Service in contrast, received high praise from the EEOC. This agency, which I had the privilege of visiting last week, has implemented several outreach initiatives to recruit women.  Sixty-six percent of their park rangers are women, a number that exceeds those for other agencies and the overall numbers in similar non-federal positions.

After reviewing the data, the EEOC presented several recommendations for improving recruitment of women for public safety positions.  The suggested initiatives include expanding recruitment efforts to all-female colleges and universities, as well as increasing the visibility of female recruiters.  The Commission also suggested developing outreach programs for elementary, middle and high school students to encourage a wide range of children to consider careers in public safety.

The summer sadly is over and the pace of work is starting to pick up in my office in a noticeable way.  Even if you find yourself in the same position, I encourage you to take a few minutes to read the Commission’s report. [email protected]

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