Connecticut is quickly beating other states and even the federal government when it comes to hiring women in high-level positions of state government.
According to a recent report from the Governor’s Council on Women and Girls, women hold nearly 52 percent of executive branch jobs where they are considered officials and administrators, in comparison to the federal government, where they hold only 30 percent of the same jobs.
While this is great news, Connecticut still has a long way to go when facing some of the challenging trends in hiring women. “Connecticut, by comparison to other states and the federal workforce, appears more equitable across gender and racial-ethnic categories from a broad view,” the report said. “That said, the state has more work to do in addressing some of the distressing representation problems that are consistent with problems that exist across the country.”
For example, state female workers are more often than not segregated into the more “caring” jobs. The departments that look over health, education, and welfare services are predominantly filled with women, while the departments that cover law enforcement and STEM are filled with men.
To show the large imbalance in the scales, consider the workers at Connecticut’s Department of Rehabilitation Services that serve those with disabilities: these workers are 79 percent female. In contrast, at the Connecticut Military Department, only a little over 16 percent of workers are women.
Democratic State Comptroller Kevin Lembo, who worked on the report, says that Connecticut still has work to do to ensure equality for women. “When you drill down into the population by agency, you find some of the challenges that you see elsewhere, where you see women and people of color are concentrated in certain agencies, certain positions, certain occupations,” he said. Despite the challenges, Connecticut women overall are earning about $1,000 more per year than their male counterparts on average in state jobs.
Besides the basic segregation and pay differences between men and women, there are even more differences for men and women of color. Minority men and women earn less than their white coworkers, around $10,000 less for men and almost $8,000 less for women. Minorities are also segregated into certain types of jobs like their white coworkers. More minority men are in the Department of Corrections, while more white men are in the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection.
This report is being treated as a blueprint for the state departments to balance each section of the workforce, but officials urge the departments to conduct their own reviews too.
Such reviews could be critical as a large portion of the Connecticut workforce is set to retire in the next few years. The Connecticut State Police could lose up to half of their state troopers to retirement by 2023. The Department of Public Health could also lose about 40 percent of its workforce to retirement in the next two years.
The continued review of how many women are in the workplace and where they are placed is essential to ensure that women continue to be heard and represented. Connecticut is well on its way to gender balance.