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Federal government a leader in closing gender pay gap

According to Washington Post columnist Joe Davidson, the federal government has progressed significantly closer to eradicating gender discrimination-specifically in terms of implementing pay equality-in the workplace than other companies nationwide.

According to the General Office of Accountability, women working for the federal government make, on average, 11 cents less than men doing the same work. Those differences, according to the Office, can be accounted for by differences in the occupations of men and women, as well as years of federal experience and level of education. The General Office of Accountability also said that the pay gap becomes smaller as men and women have increasingly more in common in terms of previous jobs held, level of experience, and level of education. On a national level, the gender pay gap is nearly 20 cents.

EEOC Chairwoman Jacqueline A. Berrien says that the wage gap is larger for women of color and women with disabilities.

Over the lifetime of a worker, though, the pay difference results not only in lost wages, but also smaller pensions and Social Security benefits. Single mothers and households in which the woman is the prime breadwinner may especially be affected by the pay gap.

Sources said that much of the credit for working toward pay equality goes to the General Schedule, which is the government's job and pay classification program. The General Schedule reportedly assures that most federal employees are paid according to performance, knowledge and experience.

Still, the system is not a guarantee against pay inequality, and the EEOC has received multiple complaints over the past couple years from federal employees alleging pay inequality. Pay-related complaints concerning bonuses and overtime, though, are apparently less likely to come from employees under the General Schedule system than employees not under the system.

Gender discrimination has other forms other than the pay gap. Other problems that arise are sexual harassment and pregnancy-related disparities.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has recently focused heavily on the issue of gender equality at various events across the country throughout April and May.

Source: Washington Post, "Gender pay gap in federal government isn't as wide as in private sector," Joe Davidson, 9 May 2011.

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