- Women in local government
- Women's representation on decision-making bodies
- Public and Private Sector Boards
- Related resources
Women in local government
Taking up leadership roles in local government, particularly in elected positions, is a positive pathway for women to progress from community leadership into influential and public leadership roles.
Women are underrepresented at both the unelected management levels and in elected positions in local government. Key challenges facing the local government sector over the next decade are an ageing workforce and a lack of sustainable skills for the sector.
According to data from the Australian Centre of Excellence for Local Government, there are approximately 200,000 elected members and employees in local government. Around half of all employees are women and yet:
- Women represent less than 30 per cent of councillors and elected members
- Only 20 per cent of women are employed as senior executives, and
- Only seven per cent of CEOs are women,
The Australian Government is committed to supporting women to take up leadership roles in local government, both in elected and management positions. Since 2010: The Year of Women in Local Government, the Government has funded the following projects through the Department of Regional Australia, Local Government, Arts and Sport and the Office for Women at FaHCSIA:
- $250,000 in 2010 for the 50:50 Vision – Councils for Gender Equity program being conducted by the Australian Local Government Women’ Association. The Program addresses gender equity issues among elected representatives and staff within organisations and recognises excellence through an accreditation and awards project.
- $250,000 in 2012 to expand the 50:50 Vision – Councils for Gender Equity program to enable the Australian Local Government Women’s Association to establish partnerships with more local government stakeholders to promote other gender equity initiatives and build a stronger commitment nationally to the Program
- $100,000 in scholarship funding to enable senior women in local government to participate in the new Executive Leadership Program being developed by the recently established Australian Centre of Excellence for Local Government and the Australia and New Zealand School of Government
- $100,000 to improve the collection of data and reporting on the status of women in the local government sector
- $40,000 to Local Government Managers Australia for their 2010 Management Challenge, which involved around 130 councils identifying strategies to promote gender equity in their councils.
Through this funding, the Government will see an increase in the number of talented women in decision-making positions in local government.
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Women's representation on decision-making bodies
While the numbers of women occupying board positions has increased both within the government and private sectors over the last decade, the number of women in these and other senior management positions remains substantially lower than for men.
The Australian Government is committed to increasing the number of women in leadership and decision making roles, including the number of women appointed to boards and other decision making bodies.
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Recognising the importance of women’s participation in the workforce and in all levels of decision-making to the national economy, the Australian Government is committed to improving the gender balance in the boardrooms, and in the senior ranks, of the private and public sectors.
Across the Australian public sector, measures are in place to increase the number of women in Government leadership roles.
The Women on Australian Government Boards Report is an annual whole-of-government status report on the level of women’s representation on a range of key Australian Government boards and bodies.
The Australian Government is determined to see greater gender balance in the nation’s top level boards and leadership ranks, to ensure economic growth and to tackle major challenges, such as our ageing population. To reinforce its commitment in this key area, the Government has introduced a target of at least 40 per cent women and 40 per cent men on its boards by 2015.
This year, five portfolios exceeded the target. This is an increase from two portfolios in 2008-09, with seven more within ten per cent of achieving 40 per cent. Eleven of nineteen portfolios have improved their representation of women on Government boards and bodies over the last 12 months.
AppointWomen is an online register that matches board-ready women with Commonwealth agencies who are seeking candidates for board positions
In February 2009, the Australian Public Service Commissioner released the Merit and transparency: merit-based selection of APS agency heads and APS statutory office holders guidelines, which encourages an increase in the representation of women in senior government appointments through using candidate registers such as AppointWomen.
Through the Commonwealth, State, Territory and New Zealand Ministers' Conference on the Status of Women, the Australian, State and Territory Governments are working together to draft a national strategy focussed towards increasing the level of women's representation on public, private and community sector boards.
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The Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Agency (EOWA) conducts a regular Census of Women in Leadership which measures the status of women on boards and women executive managers in Australia's top 200 organisations listed on the Australian Stock Exchange.