Women Employment Program
The Federal Women's Program (FWP) is one of several federally mandated programs.
It began with the passing of the 19th Amendment on August 26th, 1920, which
granted women the right to vote in the United States. Since 1971, August 26th is
recognized every year as “Women’s Equality Day” and activities are done to
memorialize the strenuous fight for women’s equality. In October 1967, the
category of “sex” was added as a protected category from unlawful discrimination
with Executive Order 11375. Then, In August 1969, Executive Order 11478 formed
the mandate for establishment of a Federal Women’s Program for each Federal
Agency and placed the responsibility under the purview of Directors of Equal
Employment Opportunity (EEO) for each Federal Agency. Finally, In March of 1972,
the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was amended to add this protection to Federal
employees and added to the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) under 29 CFR
Each year, the month of March is celebrated as “Women’s History Month” in
commemoration of “International Women’s Day,” celebrated in Europe on March 8th.
During March, we pause to recognize women’s achievements and contributions to
our planet and our communities. At VA, we believe it is important to celebrate
the achievements of the suffrage movement and know that the larger fight for
diversity and inclusion in an ongoing battle is even more vital. As current
statistics show the struggle for inclusion and diversity, especially in the
workforce, continues to this day.
In VA, where both equality and inclusion of both employees and the Veterans they
serve are of utmost importance, there is still room for improvement. As of May
31, 2012, women represent 59.48 percent of the overall VA workforce. Although
this may seem like a large number, it remains 5.37 percent below the National
Relevant Civilian Labor Force (RCLF) of 64.85 percent, which is the benchmark.
In VA’s permanent leadership pipeline (GS-12 through GS-14) women hold 62.9
percent of those positions. Women represent 35.3 percent of executive leadership
positions (GS-15 and Senior Executive Service (SES)), including 35.29 percent of
GS-15 positions and 35.57 percent of SES positions. Of important note is that
the representation of women in the higher grades has steadily increased over
that last few decades and is forecasted to continue this growth.
Each Federal Agency has designated an FWP Manager, who is tasked with carrying
out the responsibilities of the role. This individual assists in the
recruitment, development, training, and advancement of women in their respective
workforces. The FWP Manager responsibilities are:
- Advise management on the unique concerns of and barriers to equal opportunity
for a particular underrepresented group.
- Monitor and evaluate human resource policies, practices, and procedures to
determine the existence of barriers to full participation; and report findings
to the appropriate officials with recommendations for corrective action.
- Participate in studies and systemic analyses to identify barriers to equal
- Educate supervisors, managers and employees on the goals and objectives of the
- Assist in identification of training needs and recruitment sources for women in
areas they have less than expected participation rates.
- Serve as representative with various organizations with common goals.
- Coordinate and/or partner for educational programs including seminars,
workshops, and FWP observances.
- Be involved in the planning and implementation of proactive prevention measures
for women in the workforce.