Dissertations, Theses and Capstone Projects

Date of Award

Fall 12-2010

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Public Administration (MPA)


Political Science


Over the years, discrimination based on gender has become a topic of concern. The purpose of this study is to investigate the percentage of women and men working in the federal government agencies. This research also looks into public policies that are designed to improve bureaucratic representation of women in the United States. The paper begins with an explanation of the glass ceiling concept and key findings of the Federal Glass Ceiling Commission. This section is followed by a review of theories that explain why women are discriminated against and why it is important to have women working in public administrative positions. Immediately following the theory section is a segment that explores some of the important legislative policies that have helped women to where they are today.

By comparing the percentage of men and women working in the general schedule (GS) classification and the Senior Executive Services (SES), the researcher has found that women are slowly becoming more equally represented in the federal agencies. Each year the percentage of women working in the GS classifications and SES has increased, but women still have a long way to go before becoming equal to men. The research finds that there is a 10 percent decrease between the top GS levels and the SES, and a 15 percent difference in the number of women between the GS-1 to GS-5 levels compared to GS-12 to GS-15 levels.

In conclusion, federal agencies can increase the number of women working by improving their retention rate and developing them into productive role models for other women that are either in the process or considering applying for a job with a federal agency. This research will help public administrators see the areas and agencies that need the most improvements to help increase the percentage of women in the years to come.