Remarks for Associate Attorney General Jay Stephens

Women's History Month Event

March 26, 2002

        Thank you very much. I am pleased to be here today in observance and celebration of Women's History Month.

        Today, we pay tribute to women from diverse backgrounds who are helping to shape a better America in a wide range of areas - including government and law, academics and athletics, mathematics and science, the arts and community service, and our homes and families. We pay tribute to the women who are leading the way today and opening the door to opportunities for tomorrow.

        When women lead, they don't just change their businesses, their offices, their schools and their communities – they teach other women with their example. As a father of three daughters, I have witnessed first-hand the power which the right role models can have on the motivation and direction of young girls' lives. Whether it is the strength of their own mother, the motivation of a special school teacher, or the inspiration of a Supreme Court Justice–the lives and futures of our daughters are shaped by those who have led the way.

        Leadership teaches. And leadership inspires. President Bush and his administration have given the world a powerful lesson in how to build a leadership that reflects the strength of America. Of the twenty senior staff who meet with President Bush every morning for his daily briefing, eight are women. And President Bush had the wisdom and good fortune to appoint the nation's first female National Security Advisor, Dr. Condoleezza Rice.

        Here in the Department of Justice, I am proud of the accomplishments women have made and continue to make. When I previously served as United States Attorney here in Washington, we made a concerted effort to recruit and hire more women trial attorneys and to promote women attorneys into leadership positions. Many of those outstanding Assistant U.S. Attorneys have now become judges or have moved into leadership positions elsewhere in the Department. The number of women at the Department has increased significantly. Women now comprise nearly 40% of the Department's workforce. Significantly, women are employed in a wide range of positions and occupations within the Department, and women have taken a growing leadership role. In the past five years, for example, the number of women holding executive positions in the Department of Justice has increased by 32 percent.

        In its 1992 "Glass Ceiling Report on Women in the Federal Workforce" the Merit Systems Protection Board found that the government had made strides in hiring and advancing women since 1978, but that concerted efforts still were needed. Using 1992 and prior employment rates as a base, the Board forecast that in 2017 (25 years later) women would occupy only slightly more than a third of GS 13-15 white-collar positions and less than a third of Senior Executive Service positions in the federal government.

        We have proven those predictions wrong. The good news is that the actual representation of women in these positions has risen more quickly than the report anticipated. We are nearly ten years ahead of the MSPB's projected trend. At the beginning of fiscal year 2000, 24 percent of GS-15 positions and over 23 percent of the Senior Executive Service were women. We have made good progress, but there is more to do to provide an even stronger leadership role to women across the components of the Department.

        As we honor the past and celebrate the present, we must also focus on the future. Our choices today will have an enormous impact on the destiny of our daughters and grand-daughters, our sons and grandsons.

        In the spirit of America, we must rededicate ourselves to forge a society in which all Americans have the opportunity to maximize the potential that lies within them. All of us, women and men alike, have the opportunity to be leaders – to lead our families, our communities and our nation to even higher standards of professional excellence, personal integrity, and mutual respect. This month and every month let us embrace this opportunity to lead; to serve our nation, to defend freedom, and to promote the cause of justice.