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Forest Service Gets the Order, Begins Frantic Hunt for Women

The Washington Post

The U.S. Forest Service, under court order to de-macho pronto or else, is looking for 1,300 good women willing to settle in the Western woods into federal jobs paying from $23,000 to $53,000 per year.

So desperate is the service that it has drafted personnel from other units of its parent, the Department of Agriculture, for the womanhunt. It is called Project Outreach For Women.

Dead Serious

While that sounds like a science fiction movie of the 1950s--remember “Mars Needs Women”?--the agriculture-needs-women movement is deadly serious.

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If the Forest Service doesn’t hire at least 500 women fast, the secretary of agriculture could be held in contempt of court, fined and (in theory) sent to the slammer. That is according to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, which limited its decision to service offices mostly in California.

The hunt for women goes back seven years. Then an employee complained that the personnel makeup of the predominately male, predominately Western-oriented Forest Service didn’t reflect the percentage of women in the general population (more than 50%) or in the federal government, just over 41%. As is typical in government (and many private firms), most of the service’s women were concentrated in lower-paying clerical jobs.

The department denied it hadn’t made an honest effort to recruit and promote women. Meantime, it stepped up recruiting women. But that hasn’t been easy, because most of the service’s operations are in remote localities.

“In some places the Forest Service office is the only thing around,” an official said. “Getting women to move to those jobs, whether they are married or unmarried, is difficult.”

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Under a consent agreement, the service must double the number of women it has within the next few years until about 43% of its work force is female. To show that it is trying, the Service has a major women-only hiring push for jobs, mostly in California.

For-Women-Only Jobs

Agriculture Department officials say the for-women-only job vacancies cover more than 70 occupational fields from technical, administrative and professional to scientific positions. The federal pay grades are from Grade 9 through GS 13.

Women hired will be assigned to one of 18 regional offices in the California woods or to the San Francisco regional headquarters.

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The San Francisco hiring office is open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Call (916) 246-5115.


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