Encouraging Women to Lead in Public Service

We recently had the privilege at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management to welcome our fellow Americans to a series of open house events here at our headquarters in Washington, D.C. This was part of a larger effort by Federal agencies to host activities for members of the public visiting our nation’s capital ahead of the Presidential Inauguration. Along with showcasing the important work of our own employees, the open house events also allowed us to solicit new ideas from leaders and citizens across the nation on important issues that face our country.

OPM Women's Roundtable

Moderator Eleanor Clift (pictured at left) guided the discussion featuring (from left to right) Representative Kyrsten Sinema, Assistant Secretary for Policy, Management and Budget at DOI Rhea Suh, Policy Director to First Lady Jocelyn Frye, and Girl Scouts CEO Anna Maria Chávez. (Photo from Office of Personnel Management)

One of my favorite events here at OPM was our “Women in Public Service” roundtable which featured Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema (AZ), Director of Policy and Special Projects for the First Lady Jocelyn Frye, Assistant Secretary for Policy, Management and Budget at DOI Rhea Suh, and Girl Scouts Chief Executive Officer Anna Maria Chávez. The panel event tackled how we might encourage and sustain more women taking leadership tracks within public service – whether that means government service, elected office, the non-profit world, or volunteering with their communities.

At the beginning of the President’s term, women made up 29 percent of the Federal government’s senior executive service positions. That is now up to 34 percent. That’s a tremendous improvement and a great start, but we’ve got more work to do. That’s why it was so thrilling to hear this panel and our public guests discuss how we reduce the barriers women still often face within their tracks to positions of leadership.

We were also glad to help job-seekers navigate the Federal hiring process with our find and apply workshop and our Veterans employment training. A tour of our Innovation Lab, and a short session with our facilitators let us showcase the efforts we’re making to spur innovations that get better, more efficient government. And discussions on disability employment and Hispanic employment issues brought together leaders from the public and private sectors to share ideas about what we can continue to do and what we can do better to boost recruitment among these two underrepresented groups. Apart from discussing our work and gathering great ideas, the dialogue with participants at each event reinforced the continued importance of our efforts to look beyond the Washington Beltway for best practices which can serve the American public. 

Liz Montoya is the Chief of Staff at the Office of Personnel Management

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