The Glass Ceiling in the USDA Forest Service: Willing to Conform, Demanding Change

Document Type


Publication Date

Winter 1995


Despite the rapid growth in the employment of women in the U.S. workforce, women continue to encounter barriers in general management and executive positions. These barriers have been described as a "glass ceiling" for women (Morrison et al., 1987). The ceiling is a cap beyond which women find it difficult to break into higher level positions because of sociological restrictions which have the effect of limiting their opportunities for career development. The U.S. Merit System Protection Board (MSPB) (1992) conducted a survey of federal employees as to whether these barriers to career advancement also restrict the government workforce. The conclusion of the MSPB study was that a glass ceiling truly exists in the federal government.

Concurrent with the MSPB study, the authors conducted a survey of the USDA Forest Service to see if these barriers exist in this traditionally male-dominated agency. They then compared the re- sults of the MSPB study with their research to see whether career paths for women in the Forest Service differed significantly from the opportunities of female employees throughout the federal government.

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