Official Policy and the Reality of Gender Equality in Selected Tennessee State Agencies

DiAnne IsBell Derryberry, Tennessee State University


This study examines whether official policy exists in Tennessee to insure gender equality in state agencies thus exploring the macro-level. Then using a questionnaire (“Facilitating Careers in Public Administration”) selected Tennessee state agencies are surveyed to assist in determining whether gender equality is a reality in these agencies thus exploring the micro-level. This questionnaire was previously used in seven other states (the six-state study consisted of Alabama, Arizona, California, Texas, Utah, and Wisconsin and the seventh state was Florida), so the Tennessee study not only provides information about Tennessee but also adds further information to a multi-state study. The basic research questions are whether there are statistically significant differences between males' and females' responses regarding their average age when taking position, average number of years in position, average number of employees supervised, and average salary; and whether the above responses are consistent with other states' studies regarding the same variables. Hypotheses based on these questions were that there would be a difference between the responses of males and females regarding the above questions and that the Tennessee responses would not be consistent with the other state studies. This study has provided data regarding selected Tennessee state agencies and gender equality and comparisons with other states on these issues. Tennessee showed differences only in number supervised; when looking at the individual agencies, however, more differences were found. The Department of Human Services (DHS) reported women being significantly younger than men, spending significantly less time in position, and making significantly less salary, suggesting that at the Department of Human Services women supervisors may be “fast tracked” but remain underpaid. The only difference reported at the Department of Correction (DOC) was that women spent significantly less time in position than men indicating that at the Department of Correction, as well as at DHS, women appear to be more mobile. In the aggregate there were no differences found between responses of males and females except that males supervised more employees than females supervised. The Tennessee study was inconsistent with the six-state study on every variable—average age, number of years in position, number of employees supervised, and average salary. However, the Tennessee study was consistent with the Florida study on number of years in position and average salary but not on average age and number of employees supervised. Limitations of the studies using this instrument, however, and evidence of flaws in the questionnaire temper all of these conclusions. The concept of intra- and inter-state studies is important and the strongest recommendation of this study is to revamp both the questionnaire and the procedure and continue examining these research questions.

Subject Area

Public administration

Recommended Citation

DiAnne IsBell Derryberry, "Official Policy and the Reality of Gender Equality in Selected Tennessee State Agencies" (2001). ETD Collection for Tennessee State University. Paper AAI3007560.