"Look at where the women are. They aren't on the sixth floor. I don't see any women there - only white men, cookie-cutter men, all looking alike in their gray flannel suits." - Woman employe of Montgomery County government .
On paper, women have made progress in the Montgomery and Prince George's county governments and school systems. There are more women employed in public jobs, and at higher levels, than five years ago.
In Prince George's, for instance, women rose from 25 to 32 percent of county work force. In Montgomery, they moved up 2 percent, and now comprise 36 percent of county employes.
But after more than a decade of county affirmative-action programs, women say they are still locked into jobs as secretaries and teachers, with little opportunity for advancement to higher pay, as executives or even in the skilled crafts.
The Montgomery County Human Relations Commission made some of these points last week when its representatives appeared before the school board to complain generally about discrimination in the Montgomery schools.
On the matter of pay for women, Commissioner Susan Shoenberg said, "Women are in a lesser earning position in county public schools. It's probably been that way for a long time, and it will take a long time to catch up."
The commission compared 1979 Montgomery school salaries of male and female supervisors and found that on almost every level, women were running behind.
Women, who now hold 47 percent of the supervisors' jobs in the schools, earned an average of $6,276 less than their male counterparts. Women who were junior high principals earned $6,900 less, and senior high principals earned $2,000 less than men in the same category.
Edward Andrews, Montgomery school superintendent, replied that salaries are based on experience and education, implying that because the men have been in the school system longer, they tend to earn higher salaries. On the county level, pay patterns in both Prince George's and Montgomery also show women lagging behind men. In Montgomery, the average salary of all men employed is $21,972; for women it is $18,504. In Prince George's, the average was $19,445 for men and $13,379 for women.
"Whether we'll ever be able to catch up with where the white males got during the boom years, I don't know," said Sharon Stoliaroff, who is president of the Montgomery County employe women's group called Women for Equality. "We're just beginning to chip away at the salary gap."
Officials in the two counties say women are gaining in the work force. Women comprise 50 percent of the new employes in Montgomery County government. In the school system women hold 33 percent of the administrative and supervisory positions, up from 25 percent three years ago. In Prince George's County, women have moved up from 8 percent to 11 percent in official and administrative positions since 1976, and from 20 percent to 28 percent in the professional category.
Affirmative-action efforts in both counties, meanwhile, have been hurt by the fiscal crunch. Hiring has been frozen in Montgomery County government since Feb. 24, so that employes whose jobs are being cut from the fiscal 1982 budget can be transferred to other county positions.
"What happens to affirmative-action plans when you're in the reduction mode? More people on the inside have to be placed, so it reduces the affirmative-action opportunity," said Elaine Williams of Montgomery's office of management and budget.
"There are a limited amount of new jobs, but we've certainly made some improvement -- except for official and administrative positions, where there is very little turnover," said Thomas Hardin of the Prince George's County personnel office.
In the public schools, conventionally a women's field, women hold a majority of the teaching and supporting services jobs, but there are few women in management.
"The school system has made a lot of progress, but we still have a long way to go," said Nancy Powell, principal of Redland Middle School.
Describing her own experience of nearly 10 years ago, Powell said she had applied for an opening in the central office for a year's break from teaching, fully expecting to return to the classroom.
"Nobody ever said, 'Gee Nancy, you've got ability and ought to look at administration.' I was given considerable responsibility as a teacher, but nobody said 'you're got planning skills.' I would have gone back to teaching had there not been a push to get women in administrative assistant positions. I was almost recruited."
Noting that subtle forms of discrimination linger, she described serving on a team of interviewers screening five applicants for a high-level job. Two of the candidates were women. The women were asked how well they could hold up under pressure; the men were not.
"Maybe that was by chance, but that's kind of characteristic," said Powell.
"Like everyplace else, equity is on the books," said Margaret Keller, assistant principal at Rockville High School and president of a fledgling organization called Women in Education. "But there are only two women as senior high principals and four as junior high principals.
"Women should be secretaries and men should repair typewriters -- that kind of thinking is still around," she said.
Dolly Packard, president of the Prince George's chapter of N.O.W., went to Bishop McNamara High School to give a talk on women's rights during Women's History Week. The response of the boys, she said, was "you're going to take our jobs away from us."
"I said, 'what do you mean, your jobs? Just because you are white males?' Those are attitudes of the '40s. If those young men are going to grow up and run our country -- wow!"
Patricia Flinn, a Prince George's County Human Relations Commissioner, said she feels there are more than enough qualified women to fill openings, but the search process is inadequate.
"The last appointments by Larry Hogan to the Human Relations Commission included no new women," she said. "He said none applied. I said who is doing the looking?"
The Prince George's County Council sent the appointments back to the county executive last fall, suggesting he include more women. Hogan has not yet responded to that suggestion.