A Montgomery County task force committee has concluded that while the county government currently does not intentionally discriminate in its employment practices, women and minority-group men continue to be concentrated in low-paying jobs.
To address that, the committee recommended that affirmative action programs be strengthened and that women and minority-group members be encouraged by administrators to seek nontraditional positions.
In a report submitted this week to the County Council, the committee said in its study of the 1984 work force it had found no fault with the basic employment policies of the county government, public schools and other county agencies.
But, the committee said, "It must also be noted that for minorities, most of the gains in sheer numbers have been in the lower-paying occupational categories." And even though women "are increasingly well-represented in all grades and pay levels," they "still tend to be concentrated in clerical and traditional 'women's' occupations," the group added.
It cited the school system, for example, where all of the 171 kindergarten teachers are women, but more than 80 percent of the 21 high school principals are men.
The four-month-old committee is part of the Montgomery County Compensation Task Force, created two years ago to examine a variety of compensation issues facing the county's 25,000 employes.
The committee studied hiring practices of two bicounty agencies, the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission and the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, as well as county offices.
Committee Cochairman Florence Perman, who headed an ad hoc committee that studied discrimination in the county in 1971, said that while the county has taken major strides toward eliminating overt bias against female applicants, those steps are "not great enough where we can stop now."
For instance, Perman said, in 1971 a former school superintendent told her he wouldn't hire female principals because, in his view, they lacked the commitment and leadership qualities to handle the responsibilities.
But in studying hiring practices of today, "We didn't find any instances like that," Perman said.
Still, affirmative action programs such as Outreach, through which the county recruits women and minority-group men, and Upward Mobility, a training and educational effort for county employes, should receive greater attention, the committee said.
Women fill more than four out of five clerical positions in county government but only 26 percent of the administrative positions, the committee noted, while minority members hold 12 percent of the administrative posts, a 9 percentage point increase over 1973.
Minority members filled 56 percent of the maintenance jobs in county government last year -- a 26 percent increase in 12 years -- but most of those jobs are lower-paying positions, the committee noted.
Toko Ackerman, an administrative assistant at the County Commission for Women, said the commission will probably issue a statement about the report later but said she personally is encouraged that the county is recognizing areas that need to be improved.