Government admits need to employ more women at senior levels of civil service

Brendan Howlin: "significant progress" made in addressing gap between male and female participation

The Government has admitted there is a need to improve the level of employment of women in higher grades of the civil service after data showed their under-representation in better-paid positions.

Women make up a quarter of secretary general or deputy secretary general positions and a third of principal officer positions.

By contrast, women make up two-thirds of the lowest paid clerical officer positions, according to figures obtained by Independent TD Catherine Murphy in response to a parliamentary question.

The Kildare North TD said there was a “pronounced gender imbalance between senior and junior grades in the public service” and raised concerns that restricted working time arrangements under the Haddington Road Agreement would “exacerbate this inequality further”.

Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin said there had been changes to work-sharing and flexitime arrangements under the latest deal with public servants, but that “work-life balance arrangements in the civil service are among the best available options provided by Irish employers”.

“Civil servants continue to have access to a number of flexible working arrangements, including flexitime, work-sharing arrangements, the shorter working year scheme and career breaks,” said Mr Howlin.

He said “significant progress” has been made in addressing the gap between male and female participation in different grades of the civil service.

However, he accepted “there is a continuing need to promote strategies that continue to increase female participation at senior levels across all sectors of the public service”.

He said the report of the sub-committee on women in decision-making, ‘Towards Gender Parity in Decision-Making in Ireland’, chaired by the minister for state with responsibility for equality, Kathleen Lynch, will be submitted to Government shortly.

“Officials from my department will review the relevant findings of that report in order to continue to support increased participation of women at all levels in the civil service,” he said.

Figures on female participation in the civil service:

Secretary general: 26%

Deputy or assistant secretary: 24%

Principal officer: 34%

Assistant principal: 42%

Administrative officer: 45%

Higher executive officer: 54%

Executive officer: 59%

Staff officer: 77%

Clerical officer: 75%


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