Survey: Women Recommend Careers in Public Sector

While concerns about the glass ceiling persist, women working in state and local government in California are bullish about careers in the public sector.

by News Staff, Techwire / August 30, 2017
These women are participants in the ongoing Women in Government Leadership Program, which is part of a deliberate and strategic effort to invest in programs and resources that support elected women in the public sector. David Kidd/Government Technology

While concerns about the glass ceiling persist, women working in municipal, county and state government in California would recommend careers in the public sector, according to a survey by KPMG LLP and the Governing Institute.

The survey of 445 women in government roles found that they would recommend public sector careers to others, answering the question with an average score of 8 out of 10 (“absolutely will recommend”).

[Detailed survey findings:  Join the discussion on Twitter using #ITsHerFutureCA]

Despite this finding, the respondents revealed mixed views on opportunities for women in government. For example, fully half said they either have faced or expect to face a glass ceiling in their careers, compared to 35 percent who said no and 15 percent who said they did not know. They were evenly split on whether they felt women were adequately represented in their jurisdiction.

“While there’s still work to be done to break the glass ceiling, the survey results should be encouraging to women who are considering government careers,” said Nancy Valley, head of KPMG’s government practice. “These findings also reveal steps that can be taken to attract more women to work in the public sector – such as more flexible workplace schedules.”

Training increases job satisfaction
Leadership and people management were by far the most frequently cited as skills the respondents said they’d like to develop. Notably, women who said they had received leadership training were even more enthusiastic about government careers than those had received no leadership training.

Top challenges
Asked about their greatest career challenges, respondents cited a range of personal experiences, including gender discrimination, the difficulties of raising children while holding executive roles and having their work interrupted by budget or bureaucracy issues.

Strategies to attract more women
Respondents were also asked what strategies should be used to attract women to public sector roles and among many responses were: allowing more flexible workplace schedules, having female leaders as recruiters, enforcing anti-harassment policies and creating mentoring programs.

About the survey
40 percent of respondents work in municipal government, 31 percent in county government jobs and 27 percent hold state government roles. The Governing Institute gathered online responses during March. The survey is part of the joint KPMG and Governing Institute program, #ITsHerFutureCA, which is intended to offer women a platform to share their insights and experiences to help advance women in government roles and to encourage other women to consider government careers.

KPMG LLP, the audit, tax and advisory firm (, is the independent U.S. member firm of KPMG International Cooperative. 

The Governing Institute is the research division of Governing magazine, a publication of e.Republic, Government Technology's parent company.

This story was originally published by Techwire.

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