Celebrating Women’s History Month

March 27, 2013

In commemoration of Women’s History Month, the Justice Department held a Women’s History Month Observance Program to recognize the many achievements that women have made to advance the Justice Department’s mission and to improve our of nation’s cultural, economic, academic, and military institutions.

As Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole said during the program:

“At the Justice Department, the contributions of women are felt on all levels, and across each component …[and they are]providing essential leadership and vision at every level and in every corner of the world where we carry out our most critical responsibilities.”

This year’s national theme for the month is “Women Inspiring Innovation through Imagination,” which specifically addresses the role women play in advancing Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. The Department of Justice has nearly 3,000 talented women who hold positions as economists, Information Technology Specialists, Engineers, Forensic Scientists and Mathematicians.

Despite the strides women have made at the department – where they make up 41 percent of the department’s workforce, a vast gender disparity in the national workforce remains all too real. Today more women attend college than ever before. More women graduate from college with advance degrees, as compared to their male counterparts. And yet, women in America continue to earn less than their male counterparts and hold significantly fewer leadership positions in the workplace.

Deputy Attorney General Cole said:

“Inside our walls, in addition to making sure women have a seat at the table here at DOJ, we have welcomed speakers from both inside and outside the department to continue to discuss the importance of women in leadership and across the ranks of all of our occupations. Whether women are overseeing a Fortune 500 company, a federal agency, or the factory floor, the perspectives women bring to all the important work we do in this country only serves to make the ultimate product better and, as a result, make us all better off.”

In addition to ensuring that all women have equal opportunity to excel, lead, and thrive, promoting women’s safety remains one of the Justice Department’s top priorities.

Through the Office of Violence Against Women–which provides financial and technical aid to help communities develop programs, policies and practices aimed at ending domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking–and thanks to the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), the department stands more poised than ever before to protect women and girls from violence, abuse and exploitation.

Deputy Attorney General Cole noted:

“We are particularly pleased that the recent reauthorization of VAWA includes new provisions to address violence against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender individuals; immigrants and Native Americans. The department worked hard to ensure that this landmark legislation would protect all victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.”

In addition to protecting women in their communities, the department works to protect women in the workplace. Alongside the Equal Opportunity Commission at the Department of Labor which has oversight of private employers, the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division’s Employment Litigation section ensures that women in the federal workforce are protected from discrimination on the basis of their gender. Discrimination on the basis of gender includes denying equal employment opportunity to any person because of gender, treating a woman unfavorably because she is pregnant, or treating a person unfavorably because he or she does not conform with gender-based stereotypes.

Women’s History Month is a time for us to reflect, not just on the many amazing contributions women have made here at the department and throughout the nation, but on the many challenges women still face. It is a time for us to recommit to equality and to justice for women.

For more information about the Office of Violence Against Women, visit ovw.justice.gov. To learn more about the Civil Rights Division’s Employment Litigation Section, visit http://www.justice.gov/crt/about/emp/