“A significant number” of women across components and position types in the Justice Department say they have “experienced gender discrimination and differing treatment in some form, including in promotions and other workplace opportunities,” an IG report has said after a review that included a survey, focus groups and individual interviews.
“Numerous interviewees and focus group participants spoke about bias and inequity in promotion selections” and those “who described their experiences with discrimination and sexual harassment also told us how these experiences negatively affected them personally, including physical illness, isolation, and fearfulness at work,” it said.
Barely above half of those who responded to the survey said that their component has a “gender equitable culture,” with a majority of male staff, but a minority of female staff, feeling their component was gender equitable and/or that gender equity was improving.
Negative views were especially high in special agent and criminal investigative positions, which “may be influenced by the low percentage of women in leadership and criminal investigator positions, promotion selections that reflect an underrepresentation of women, and the staff view that personnel decisions are based on personal relationships more than merit,” said the report.
Women account for only 16 percent of the criminal investigators in the department’s four law enforcement components and held few law enforcement executive leadership positions, it said. Instead, women in were more likely to be human resources specialists, financial specialists, or program analysts.
Similarly, at the headquarters level, women held few leadership positions and even those usually were administrative or support units rather than operational units. “Further, we found that women did not hold many of the top leadership positions in field offices, divisions, and districts,” the auditors said.