Gender Equality at the Executive Level of the Northern Ireland Public Sector
Prof Joan Ballantine, Prof Kathryn Haynes, Dr Melina Manochin and Mr Tony Wall (Ulster)
The issue of gender equality at senior levels in the private and public sectors is receiving ever increasing worldwide attention. Reflecting this, substantial data exists for the private sector with research broadly indicating that progress towards achieving gender equality at senior levels is slow. However, limited research has considered this issue in the context of the public sector. Recent statistics have indicated that males continue to significantly dominate senior positions in both the GB and N.I. Civil Service and across public appointments. However, whilst some limited data is available for specific segments of the N.I. public sector, to date no study has investigated this issue across the entire sector. In this presentation we report the findings of an OFMDFM funded research project, which aims to investigate and address this issue. Stage one of the project provides a baseline for gender equality within the N.I. public sector, with findings showing that females account for just 29% of senior positions. Stage two reports on a survey of some three thousand current and aspiring male and female executives’ attitudes to gender equality issues including enablers and barriers to achieving gender equality at senior levels in the N.I. public sector. The findings are of particular relevance to N.I. given OFMDFM’s commitment to gender equality in terms of increasing women’s representation in decision making. They are also timely in the context of the development of the new N.I. gender equality strategy.