WASHINGTON – An internal Justice Department gender equality group sent a letter to management Tuesday highlighting the lack of gender diversity in senior positions.
The letter, sent by the DOJ Gender Equality Network, or DOJ GEN, includes a chart of 50 senior jobs across the department, including the three highest-ranking spots – attorney general, deputy attorney general, and associate attorney general – as well as senior posts in eight offices that handle litigation, including the Criminal Division, Civil Division, Civil Rights Division, and Environment and Natural Resources Division. None of the top positions were held by women, and only one of the other senior-level jobs listed was held by a woman, according to information compiled by the group.
DOJ GEN describes itself in the letter as a "resource and advocacy group" that counts approximately 375 Justice Department attorneys, staff, and contractors as members. In the letter, which was sent to the heads of the litigating divisions, the group questioned what management planned to do to address the lack of diversity, and asked that they raise the issue with Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker and "any future Attorneys General" as a priority. Trump's nominee for attorney general, Bill Barr, is on track for a final vote in the US Senate this week.
"The dearth of women in top leadership roles sends a negative message, both to Department employees and to the public at large, that DOJ does not value including women in top-level decision-making," DOJ GEN wrote in the letter.
The letter is signed by DOJ GEN's president Stacey Young, an attorney in the Civil Division, and vice president Melanie Krebs-Pilotti, an attorney in the Antitrust Division. Young declined an interview request.
Justice Department spokesperson Kerri Kupec, who heads the Office of Public Affairs, said in a statement to BuzzFeed News that the department "is committed to implementing policies that will ensure equal employment opportunity in all aspects of the Department’s daily operations and hiring practices, enforcing employment anti-discrimination laws, and fostering inclusive work environments that afford men and women from diverse backgrounds the equal opportunity to grow in their careers and support the Justice mission."
Kupec also said that one of the positions in the Criminal Division listed on DOJ GEN's chart as being filled by a male official is vacant.
A review of the Justice Department's organizational chart by BuzzFeed News shows that women are in charge of several offices separate from the litigating divisions, including the Office of Legal Policy, which advises DOJ leadership on policy issues and works with judicial nominees; the Office of Public Affairs; the Office of Tribal Justice; and the Office of Violence Against Women. Kupec's statement included a list of several women in leadership roles in the department, including one in the Civil Rights Division who was not included in DOJ GEN's chart.
Of the 38 offices listed in the department's organizational chart, 10 are led by women.
The list included in DOJ GEN's letter includes a mix of political appointees and career employees of the department. The heads of each of the litigating divisions is nominated by the president and confirmed by the US Senate.
BuzzFeed News reported in September 2017 on the lack of gender diversity among President Donald Trump's US attorney nominees. At the time, of 42 nominees, one was a woman. Of the 78 US attorneys confirmed by the Senate under Trump to date, seven are women.
This story was updated with information from the Justice Department about the status of a position included on DOJ GEN's chart.
This story was updated with comment from a Justice Department spokesperson.