Dáil Éireann - Volume 531 - 01 March, 2001
Written Answers. - Gender Balance Policy.
Mr. Bell Mr. Bell
42. Mr. Bell asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he is satisfied with the figures for gender balance in regard to State boards or bodies, reflected in the quarterly returns made by other Departments to his Department; if he will give the current figures; if he will publish the returns for each quarter since January 1998; the reason the 40% target level for gender balance has not been met; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6135/01]
Mr. O'Donoghue Mr. O'Donoghue
Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform (Mr. O'Donoghue): Guidelines in the form of a Government decision taken in March 1993 were issued to all Departments. The Government decided that Ministers should endeavour to have a minimum of 40% of both men and women among the chairs of boards of State bodies and among other persons nominated by Ministers to State bodies under their aegis. The Government further decided that all Ministers should advise bodies nominating persons to boards under their  aegis of the Government's gender balance policy and ask them formally to follow a similar practice. These guidelines were extended in March 1995 to include advisory committees, visiting committees, committees of a temporary nature, etc. My Department monitors progress in appointing women to State boards on a regular basis and keeps the situation under review.
I intend to continue the policy objective of gender balance on State boards, with a minimum target of 40% of women and men in direct appointments. I will also continue to encourage nominating bodies to adopt a similar policy. Substantial progress has already been made in relation to gender balance on boards. Women's representation in all appointments, including external nominations from nominating bodies, increased from 15% in 1992 to 28% at 30 September, 2000 and from 17% to 34% of ministerial nominations in the same period. Each Minister is responsible for implementing the gender balance policy in her or his area.
A reason for the imbalance between men and women on State boards is that women have not yet reached top management levels in many areas. Recently published research on gender equality in the Civil Service demonstrates this. This research report stated that women, compared with men, can expect to enter at a lower level and progress more slowly through the grading structures and as a result they can expect to be paid less. Further work needs to be done to ensure that women achieve equality.
There is a commitment under the Programme for Prosperity and Fairness for the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform, in consultation with the social partners, to undertake during the course of the programme an examination of the low representation of women at decision making levels. The breakdown of membership of boards in each Department for end September 2000, the most recent period for which figures are available, is set out in the following tabular statement:
Membership of State boards end September 2000.
Appointments in the three months ending September 2000
Corresponding figures between January 1998 and June 2000 will be circulated in the Official Report.
Dáil Éireann 531 Written Answers. Gender Balance Policy.