Balanced boards: Tasmania catching up to gender parity

By Stephen Easton

Tuesday November 20, 2018

When it comes to reversing male dominance in public sector leadership roles, governments are making progress outside their own departments. Tasmania is the latest to see quick wins on public sector boards.

Tasmania’s Minister for Women Jacquie Petrusma is the latest to proudly announce solid progress towards gender parity in this area a few years after making it an explicit goal. Women now hold about 42.9% of roles, up from 33.8% in mid-2015 when she announced a plan to hit 50-50 by 2020.

Last September, the figure was 40.1% so it looks like the Tasmanian government is roughly on track to meet its target. Petrusma claims the most-improved mantle for Tasmania, noting its progress towards parity is the fastest of any state or territory.

“This represents an increase of 9.1 percentage points in the number of board positions held by women since 2015, or an increase of nearly 27 per cent in the ratio of women board members,” she said in a statement.

Women are already in the majority among directors of the state’s six government business enterprises with 52.9% of the roles, while 44.1% of the directors of Tasmania’s eight state-owned companies are women. Each GBE has at least two women on its board and each SOC has at least one, although neither figure has changed in the past year.

Petrusma also listed the latest 17 women to receive board diversity scholarships for courses with the Australian Institute of Company Directors. The state government has committed $200,000 to the program and awarded 75 scholarships since 2015.

“This year scholarships have been awarded to Tasmanian women who are emerging leaders, and women who face the most barriers to professional development opportunities and leadership roles, including board and committee appointments.

“Applications were actively sought from women with disability, women from migrant and refugee backgrounds, Aboriginal women and women working in Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Medicine (STEMM) areas.

“Seven of today’s 17 scholarship recipients have migrant or refugee backgrounds; two are women with disability and three scholarships have been received by women working in STEMM areas.”

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