DOJ employees call out lack of women in leadership positions

Posted at 6:20 PM, Feb 13, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-13 20:52:07-05

The Justice Department doesn’t have a single woman in top-level leadership positions among seven of its divisions, according to the Department of Justice Gender Equality Network.

The resource and advocacy group, which represents more than 300 male and female employees at the Justice Department, sent a letter this week calling on senior leaders within the department to explain why women aren’t adequately represented at the highest levels.

Among the 50 senior leaders listed by the group, just one woman is named — Jean Williams, deputy assistant attorney general for the Environment and Natural Resources Division.

The letter is addressed to Assistant Attorneys General Brian Benczkowski, Jeff Clark, Makan Delrahim, John Demers, Eric Dreiband and Joseph Hunt, as well as Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Richard Zuckerman. It not only points out the lack of women in leadership, but also urges these men to recognize the importance of gender diversity in future hiring decisions for leadership positions and asks for a response from each division leader about “what you have done or plan to do to address the lack of women in top-level leadership positions in your respective offices.”

The letter reads, “The dearth of women in top leadership roles sends a negative message, both to Department employees and to the public at large, that DOJ does not value including women in top-level decision-making.” The divisions where women are not represented in top-level positions are Antitrust, Civil, Civil Rights, Criminal, National Security, Tax and the Solicitor General’s Office.

The group also points to a lack of gender parity in managerial senior executive service positions. The group calculated that women fill roughly 45% of attorney positions and about 38% of senior executive service positions in the litigation components of the Justice Department.

Kerri Kupec, the director of public affairs at the department, told CNN, “The Department of Justice is committed to enforcing employment anti-discrimination laws, implementing policies that will ensure equal employment opportunity in all aspects of the Department’s daily operations and hiring practices, and fostering inclusive work environments that afford men and women from diverse backgrounds the equal opportunity to grow in their careers and support the Justice mission.”

A senior department official also pointed to several other women who are in leadership roles at the department, listing Beth Williams, the assistant attorney general for the Office of Legal Policy; Katie Sullivan, the acting director of the Office on Violence Against Women; and Melanie Pustay, the director of the Office of Information Policy, among others.

In June, a report from the department’s inspector general showed overwhelming male representation at four key federal law enforcement groups and highlighted a “concerning” level of gender discrimination. The report also raised questions about discrimination and harassment at law enforcement agencies.

The 2018 report found that women at the time made up less than 40% of the workforce for the Drug Enforcement Administration, the FBI, the US Marshals Service and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The report also found that 22% of female respondents — including 43% of female special agent and deputy marshal respondents — said “they had experienced some form of gender discrimination during the previous five years.”