If men and women were evenly distributed among federal jobs and pay ranges, you’d expect women to make more than men about half the time.

But women make more than men only 41 percent of the time. That’s according to a Washington Post analysis comparing people with similar education, experience and job categories.

It’s an improvement over a dozen years ago but still represents a 17 percentage-point gap with men.

Similar women and men if equal

This gap has narrowed over the past dozen years, in part because women moved out of lower-paying jobs and into higher-paying ones.

Since 2004, the percentage of clerical workers who are women has dropped. In that same period, women became more likely to hold better-paid professional jobs.

[Women who want to get ahead should look to the federal government, not corporate America]

Women also account for a growing portion of federal workers with advanced degrees and a shrinking portion of workers with only a high school education.

But in some occupations that offer women the best chance to make as much as their male counterparts, women still hold few jobs.

Women are at or near pay parity in engineering, science and technology jobs.

Women and men in STEM

But women hold only about a third or less of jobs in any of those areas, and that share is falling for technology jobs.

Women’s share of STEM jobs

Across all jobs, the longer a woman has worked for the federal government, the less likely she is to see pay parity with men.

Women who have been in a government job for a few years are seeing pay closer to that of comparable men.

[Terrifying, heart-rending, defeating: 10 hours on patrol along the Mexican border]

Women who have worked for many years are less likely to make more than men with the same education and job type.

Length of service

A woman’s overall likelihood of making more than a man depends on which agency she works in.

Tap a point on the chart for more detail.
Pay gap: Chance a woman will make more than a man:

As recently as the early 1990s, the largest group of women in the federal government held clerical jobs, among the lowest-paid and requiring the least education.

Most clerical jobs have disappeared, and more women are found among federal professionals, like scientists and lawyers.

At the Smithsonian Institution, almost 500 people work in science and technology jobs that often require graduate or professional education. Women account for more than 30 percent of them, up from less than a quarter a dozen years ago.

Photo of Dr. Carla Dove in her lab at the Smithsonian

(Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

Dr. Carla Dove is an ornithologist who directs the Feather Identification Lab at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History.

The lab identifies species involved in aircraft bird strikes. Strikes cause an annual $600 million in damage. Her work helps reduce their risks. In 2009, she identified the migrating Canada geese that brought down a passenger airliner in the emergency water landing now known as the Miracle on the Hudson.

At the Department of Labor, women’s share of 3,200 professional jobs has increased to 42 percent, up six points since 2004. Their median pay is $1.01 for each $1 for men. Women account for more than half of Labor attorneys, one of its most numerous professional jobs.

Photo of Anh LyJordan in her office

(Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

Anh LyJordan is a trial attorney with the Department of Labor in Arlington.

LyJordan defends the rights of coal miners in West Virginia when they are fired after raising safety or health concerns, and she has been instrumental in returning them to work or ensuring they receive economic relief. She’s on a team that has recovered pay for low-wage workers like restaurant servers and kitchen staff who failed to receive minimum wage and overtime.

Staff writer Lisa Rein contributed to this report.

This portrait of the 2 million men and women in the federal workforce is based on analysis of federal employment data for 2016 and 2004 from the Office of Personnel Management. The data includes characteristics like gender, occupation, education and length of service but not workers’ names. The median pay and job share figures for various categories of men and women are for civilian, full-time, permanent federal employees. The estimates of how often men and women earn more than each other are based on billions of comparisons of federal workers with similar education, length of service and job categories. Every woman was matched with every man with similar characteristics to see who had a higher salary.

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