Eamon Ryan under fire over gender inequality on Transport boards 

Eamon Ryan under fire over gender inequality on Transport boards 

Green Party leader and  Minister for Transport
Eamon Ryan made commitments for greater gender balance on Transport State boards more than two years ago.  Picture: Damien Storan

Most of the Department of Transport’s State boards are not only run by men but almost all have more men than women board members.

This is despite a commitment by Green Party leader Eamon Ryan, the current Minister for Transport, for greater gender balance on boards more than two years ago.

In January 2020, when asked by the Women’s Council of Ireland, what is the most important change he would want to achieve for women’s equality if elected as Taoiseach, Mr Ryan said: “I believe it is important to advance women's leadership in politics and across the business sectors by introducing mandatory gender quota for executive boards of all large companies registered in Ireland. It is important to have a gender balance in all offices.”

The most up-to-date list of members of boards under the aegis of his department shows just four of the 18 chairperson posts are filled by women and of the total board members across all boards, 99 are men and 49 are women.

Since Mr Ryan became transport minister on June 27, 2020, 47 board positions have been filled by men and 23 by women.

Orla O’Connor, director of the National Women’s Council said: “The lack of women in leadership positions means women are excluded from the rooms of power, where key decisions affecting their lives are made. This has serious consequences for their lives and entrenches gender inequalities.

"It is crucial that the Department of Transport increase the number of women on State boards under their aegis."

Imbalance

She said there are currently 48 vacancies on the department’s boards. "We must use these vacancies to ensure the boards consist of at least 40% women, which is the Government’s own guidance for State boards.”

Two companies — the Dublin Port Company and the Port of Waterford Company — have no female board members.

And the only boards to have more women than men are the Marine Casualty Investigation Board, which has two women and one man, and the Road Safety Authority, which has five women and four men.

Boards with the worst gender imbalance include Bus Éireann, where just one of the nine board places is filled by a woman, and the Dublin Aviation Authority, where just two of the 13 board places are filled by women.

Women are also in the minority in the boards for the Port of Cork Company, the Medical Bureau of Road Safety, the National Transport Authority, and Shannon Group.

On the Advisory Committee on Small Public Service Vehicles, where there are 18 board positions, there are just five women.

And of the 14 places on the Railway Safety Advisory Council, six of them are filled by women.

A Department of Transport spokesperson said Eamon Ryan "has been particularly concerned about boards with no or very low female representation".

"Since he took office the number of women on the boards of Cork and Foynes ports increased from 0 to two and one to three respectively," they said. 

"Across the 18 State boards under the remit of the Department of Transport, the gender balance is currently 68% male and 32% female.

"The Minister is wholly committed to promoting diversity and inclusion on the Department’s State boards and is acutely aware of the need to attain a target of 40% representation of each gender on State boards."

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