Women and Minorities in State Government Agencies

By Kim, Chon-Kyun | Public Personnel Management, Summer 2004 | Go to article overview

Women and Minorities in State Government Agencies


Kim, Chon-Kyun, Public Personnel Management


This paper explores the relationship between size, type and location of agency and representation of women and minorities in state government agencies through an examination of the recent demographic data on full-time employees in the state governments of Michigan and Pennsylvania. Findings indicate that while type and location of agency are directly linked to female representation in Pennsylvania and Michigan, these variables are not related to minority representation. Women are likely to be overrepresented in redistributive agencies and agencies located in large cities. Surprisingly, size of agency is not linked to female or minority representation in either of these states. Further, women and minorities tend to be overrepresented in clerical and paraprofessional jobs and underrepresented in administrative and technical jobs, as past studies demonstrated. African Americans are well represented, whereas other minorities, such as Hispanics and Asian Americans, are poorly represented in these states.

A large number of women and minorities have typically occupied stereotypical roles in governmental agencies--clerical and blue-collar jobs, and lower and middle positions--even though the percentage of women and minorities in public bureaucracies keeps increasing. (1) Specifically, women and minorities are likely to be heavily concentrated in clerical and blue-collar jobs, whereas they are relatively rare in professional and administrative positions. (2) Women and minorities tend to be overrepresented in welfare, health, education and housing agencies (i.e., redistributive functions), while they appear to be underrepresented in the foreign service, corrections and transportation agencies (i.e., regulatory and distributive functions). In state government agencies, health and welfare are the most representative for both women and minorities, whereas streets, highways, sanitation and natural resources are the least representative for them; women are also underrepresented in police and corrections. (3)

Are women and minorities still overrepresented in redistributive state agencies? Do minorities face the same kind of agency segregation as women? Are agency sizes or locations linked to employment of women and minorities in state government agencies? How is each minority group different with regards to employment patterns? The studies of Cayer and Sigelman; Hutchins and Sigelman; Dometrius, Kelly, et al; Bullard and Wright; and Riccucci and Saidel have explored representative workforces through an investigation of data on women or minorities (e.g., African Americans in most cases) at top decision-making positions or career civil positions in state governments. (4)

The objective of this study is to examine the degree to which women and minorities are represented in state government agencies through an analysis of the recent demographic data on full-time employees in two of the 10 largest state governments. Theoretically, this study matters in terms of providing possible explanations for the concentration (or lack thereof) of women and minorities in state bureaucracies by testing empirically the relationship between size, type or location of agency and representation of women and minorities in the state civil service.

Theories and Hypotheses of Female and Minority Employment

Female and minority employment in state government agencies is affected by such organizational and administrative characteristics as agency type, size or location. Lowi classified the federal bureaus with regards to agency types. (5) He identified four types of agencies--regulatory, distributive, redistributive and constituent agencies--whose administrative structures could determine their employment patterns. (6) However, it is difficult to fit a department into a single category, because a department comprises companies of bureaus. A department has several different functions that can transcend Lowi's agency types. …

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