Women make up just 29.3% of federal government employees in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields, according to a new report by the Equal Opportunity Commission in employment which studies gender using 2019 data.

This is slightly higher than the 27% share of women in total civilian STEM employment, according to recent census data.

“Clearly, the federal government shares the same challenges as the private sector in improving the representation of women in STEM occupations,” Carlton Hadden, director of the EEOC’s Office of Federal Operations, said in a statement. “There were far fewer women in the tech and engineering fields than expected.”

STEM fields have been male-dominated for decades, although women’s participation in these professions has increased.

Leadership is still predominantly male, with men accounting for 74.1% of leadership positions. This gap manifests itself both in terms of senior managers and executives as well as front-line program managers and team leaders.

The report also breaks down the federal STEM workforce by race and ethnicity.

Most government STEM employees are white – 66%. Black; Asian; Hispanic and Latina; Alaskan Indian and American Indian; and Hawaiian and Pacific Islander women represent approximately 14.6%, 9.8%, 6.4%, 1%, and 0.3% of the federal government STEM workforce, respectively.

The report also revealed that there is an average salary difference of about $4,300 per year in terms of gender.

On average, women are paid less than men in science, engineering and math, but more in technology jobs, which the EEOC attributes to the fact that there are fewer women in technology jobs, but that they occupy higher levels, the report says.

Research referenced in the EEOC report shows that the gender gap in STEM begins as early as high school and persists into higher education.

Racial and ethnic disparities that extend beyond the STEM field also start early in the education pipeline.

Once women enter the workforce, they face prejudice, harassment, and a limited pool of women to draw on as mentors and role models.

Kelly Fletcher, senior deputy CIO at the Department of Defense, told a panel Thursday by GovernmentCIO Media that she often faces prejudice as a CIO who is a relatively young woman.

While she was CIO of the Navy, a man once told her after a panel that she “didn’t look like the CIO of the Department of the Navy,” she said. “I come across this all the time.”

The Biden administration has already made diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility in the government workforce a priority, reversing Trump administration policies that banned diversity training for feds. and subcontractors.

Some agencies also have their own goals. Jen Easterly, director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, wants to close the gender gap in cybersecurity by 2030.

Angie Bailey, who was a human capital manager at the Department of Homeland Security, told FCW she was not surprised by the EEOC statistics.

The “key,” she said, will be “to build these programs into the early stages of a child’s education, especially girls. There still remain pre-determined societal norms or destinies for many, including minorities and women”.

Former federal CIO Suzette Kent told FCW that coming from the male-dominated financial sector, she was “delighted that women hold one-third of the 33 leadership positions on the CIO board.” At the same time, she looks forward to gender parity in tech employment.

Closing the gender gap is not just about equity. The EEOC called it “imperative” that the government be able to address issues such as terrorism, pandemics and climate change with representation from the entire population.

“Part of fighting new threats and keeping all of our friends and family safe is not thinking about things the way we always have and that’s where I think diversity comes in. “, said Cynthia Kaiser, section chief of the cyber division of the FBI, during the conference. sign. “Diversity is not just the assimilation of people who look different, it is actually the welcoming of new ideas.”