Jobs for the boys make it hard to be a woman

WOMEN can be trusted with the arts but not with the country’s money is the Government’s message, according to a new study.

Not one woman is on the board of the Central Bank, the authority responsible for the country's banks and cash. Its also a case of jobs for the boys on the greyhound racing authority, Bórd na gCon, which also has zero female representation.

The Arts Council, with eight women and nine men on the board, is the only State body nearly approaching a 50:50 gender balance.

The corridors of power are frequented by a pitifully small number of women, the report compiled on behalf of the National Women's Council of Ireland shows.

The study shows the numbers of women involved in politics and decision making in the country is well below government targets. The percentage of women appointed to State boards has rarely reached 40%, although this figure has been an official Government guideline since 1991.

Across the board in politics, finance, health, education, law and business groups, women are grossly under represented.

Despite an increased focus on the issue of gender equality, the situation shows no dramatic sign of improvement, according to the report entitled Irish Politics Jobs for the boys.

Only 13% of those elected to the Dáil in the general election are women and the percentage of female representatives has risen by only one per cent over the past 10 years.

"At this rate, it will take 370 years for the percentage of women in the Dáil to reach 50%," the report says.

"Ireland ranks 59th out of 120 nations in the world when it comes to parliamentary representation. That puts us lower than the European, American and Asian average and on a par with sub-Saharan Africa," the report says.

The National Women's Council of Ireland says that the low percentage of women in the Seanad and in local politics means that, without Government action, the number of women TDs will not increase in the immediate future.

NWCI chairperson Gráinne Healy, wants the Government to oblige political parties by law, to introduce quotas putting forward an equal number of men and women for national elections, local elections and party executives. As an incentive, half of State funding for parties should be dependent on achieving a gender balance among candidates.

"Quotas were successfully used in Sweden and Denmark to increase the number of women in politics. Sweden has the highest number of women in its parliament of any country in the world at 43%," she said. "France introduced a parity law in 2000, which has resulted in an immediate improvement in the percentage of women in politics, especially at local level."

Among the other measures demanded by the NWCI, is that gender balance on State boards should also be a statutory requirement, making it compulsory by law that at least 40% of the members are women.

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