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DOJ OIG Releases Report on Gender Equity in the Justice Department’s Law Enforcement Components

Department of Justice (DOJ) Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz announced today the release of a report examining gender equity in the DOJ’s law enforcement components - the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and the U.S. Marshals Service (USMS).

As described in today’s report from the DOJ Office of the Inspector General (OIG), while overall staff in the four law enforcement components generally believed that their components were gender equitable, we found that women, especially female Criminal Investigators, overwhelmingly did not hold this view. The OIG assessed both workforce gender diversity and employees’ perceptions of gender equity and discrimination. We conducted individual interviews, focus groups, and an anonymous online survey to which over 8,000 employees, or 15% of all staff, responded. The specific findings in the report released today include:

  • Culture. A majority of male staff, but a minority of female staff, felt their component was gender equitable, and only 33% of female Criminal Investigator survey respondents believed that their agency had a gender equitable culture. Further, a significant number of women across agencies and position types reported that they had experienced gender discrimination and differing treatment in some form, including in promotions and other career-enhancing opportunities. Staff members from across agencies, position types, and genders told us they believed that personnel decisions, including promotions, were based more on personal relationships than merit.
  • Workforce Equity. Women accounted for only 16% of Criminal Investigators in DOJ’s law enforcement components. Additionally, women held few headquarters executive leadership positions over operational units and few top field leadership positions.
  • Promotion Equity. Among Criminal Investigators, women did not receive a proportionate amount of promotions based on the potential applicant pool. Among professional staff, gender equity in promotions varied. Many female Criminal Investigators at ATF, DEA, and FBI believed there was a “glass ceiling” for women. Our analysis of promotions data indicates possible issues for women in these agencies advancing into supervisory positions.
  • Equal Employment Opportunity Process. Staff of all genders, positions, and supervisory statuses had negative perceptions about the Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) process, and close to 45% of survey respondents said that they would not use or were unsure whether they would use the EEO process if they experienced discrimination. Further, many staff reported to us that they had experienced discrimination and had not reported it. Negative perceptions of the EEO process may contribute to underreporting of discrimination and harassment, which could then hinder the components’ ability to address individual instances of discrimination and harassment and the conditions that allow such behavior to occur.

Today’s report makes 6 recommendations to the DOJ and its four law enforcement components to improve the state of gender equity in the components. The components agreed with all of our recommendations.

Report: Today’s report is available on OIG’s website under “Recent Reports” and at the following link: https://oig.justice.gov/reports/2018/e1803.pdf.

Multimedia: To accompany today’s report, the OIG has released a 3-minute video featuring the Inspector General and an 8-minute podcast featuring members of the review team discussing the report’s findings. The video, podcast, and downloadable transcripts of each are available at the following link: https://oig.justice.gov/multimedia/.

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