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Polco News & Knowledge

Do Women and Men See the Local Government Workplace Differently?

- By Angelica Wedell -

Do women see the local government workplace differently from their male colleagues? As the profession seeks to promote healthier organizations that equally provide job satisfaction and opportunities for advancement, this is a question we must ask. Fortunately, the answers are not beyond the reach of public sector managers. National Research Center, Inc. (NRC) presents survey data that highlights the perspectives of local government employees across the U.S.

This presentation, created by NRC, comes from the 2018 League of Women in Government (LWG) Symposium at the International City/County Management Association (ICMA) Conference in Baltimore, MD.

Presentation Notes

Employee Ratings of Their Local Government By Gender

Why assess the workplace this way? We are here because we love the profession. We want to see it succeed.  We want fulfillment and opportunity in our jobs. We want diverse and inclusive organizations that attract and maintain talent and develop leaders. To get that, we must understand where we are.

13 Percent

#13Percent: Percentage of Women in CEO/CAO Positions

  • In the 1980s
  • In 2015

Reported by the ICMA Task Force on Women in the Profession. Since 2015, the needle has only moved up a few percentage points. Today, we are not looking at recruiting practices. We are taking an internal look at the workplace itself.

Data Highlights From The National Employee Survey

These data tell us what people think. They don’t tell us why. But they allow us to compare and apply what we know in order to open discussion and to assess where we are. So we can do better. I’m about to share highlights of aggregate data on a national scale, and no individual organizations will be revealed. For an accurate view of the workplace climate in your own organization, I would encourage you to have a survey conducted of your employees.

It is interesting to note that overall, women tend to give higher ratings than men on most questions. And in many categories, women and men felt just about the same. However, local government managers may want to pay special attention to those categories where opinions between genders were (at least somewhat) significantly different.

Contribution and Fit

How well the employee is a good match for the position. They are happy with what they do. They feel they do a good job. Their work matters.  Women and men gave similar ratings.

Female Male
Overall job satisfaction 84% 82%
Satisfaction from responsibilities 85% 85%
Positively challenged 81% 81%
Opportunity to do what I do best 80% 77%

Relationship with Organization

How employees feel about working for their organization. How they feel about the leadership and management.  On these items, women consistently gave higher ratings than men – and that’s at least 5 percentage points or more higher on each of these (but one).

Female Male
Likely to recommend 86% 79%
Organization is a good employer 86% 80%
Values match or fit 85% 80%
Atmosphere of trust and confidence 65% 65%
Modeling a high standard 61% 55%
Confidence in the leadership 59% 52%

Respect and Ethics

How well the organization fosters and models an atmosphere that is respectful and ethical to all employees, regardless of demographic background. Women and men gave similar ratings.

Female Male
A respectful atmosphere 61% 60%
Communicating standards of ethical behavior 67% 66%
Modeling standards of ethical behavior 62% 59%
Free of violence or harassment 78% 79%

Handling Concerns

How fairly the organization deals with disciplinary issues. How well management resolves concerns and issues and communicates appropriately with employees. Men gave higher ratings.

Female Male
Resolving employee issues/concerns 64% 70%
Communicating resolution of issues/concerns 67% 74%
Dealing with low-performing employees 23% 24%
Discipline fairly and consistently 36% 38%

Wages and Benefits

Compensation: Salary, incentives, bonuses, etc. Overall benefits: Vacation, sick leave, health care, retirement plan, etc. Women gave higher ratings.

Female Male
Compensation 44% 39%
Benefits 76% 68%
Connection between compensation and performance 35% 33%

Career Advancement

Whether employees believe they have adequate opportunities for professional development, mentoring and promotion. How well employees feel they can further their career within their current organization. Men gave higher ratings.

Female Male
Coaching or mentoring employees 43% 45%
Opportunities for promotion 29% 39%
Opportunities to develop a career path 43% 49%
Assisting in meeting career goals 70% 75%


Women and Men both tend to give high ratings for their organization as an employer. (83% Overall)

Women, especially, rate opportunities for promotion much lower. (29%)


How can we support women in our organizations who want to advance their careers?


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