Women still not equal at the highest levels of the APS

By Chris Johnson

Tuesday December 1, 2020


There are now more women working in the APS than there are men – but you wouldn’t know it if you were only dealing with the SES.

While women make up 60% of the APS workforce, the proportion of women in the SES is below 50%.

Across almost all levels of the APS there are more women than there are men, as the following shows:

APS1  67.4% women – 32.5% men

APS2  61.1% women – 38.8% men

APS3  66.0% women – 33.7% men

APS4 68.8% women – 31.1% men

APS5 62.3% women – 37.7% men

APS6 58.4% women – 41.5% men

EL1 53.6% women – 46.3% men

It’s only when moving beyond EL1 that the decline in female representation appears to begin.

At EL2 level there 48.9% women compared with 51.1% men. That’s almost on parity.

SES Band 1 is almost close to equal with 49.9% women and 50.0% men.

But in SES Band 2 there are only 42.0% women, while there are 57.9% men

SES Band 3 has 45.1% women and 54.9% men.


According to the State of the Service Report, that is changing.

“Women are well represented at all classification levels in the APS including the SES. The proportion of women in the SES is below 50%; however, this is changing quickly. For the past 6 years the proportion of promotions into and within the SES for women has exceeded 50%, on average (Figure 3.12).150 In 2019–20, around 60% of promotions at SES 1 (60.7%), SES 2 (58.8%) and SES 3 (60.0%) were women.”

According to the 2019 OECD Government at a Glance, the report states, Australia performs above the OECD average in terms of gender equality in public sector employment. Proportionately there are now more women in the APS (60%) compared to their proportion in the Australian labour market (47%). The APS has become an employer of choice for women, where women account for almost three in every five new ongoing recruits.

The APS Gender Equality Strategy is underway, but there is a gender pay gap of 7.3% in favour of men in the APS.

“However, this has reduced from 9.1% in 2015,” the report states.

“Based on 2019 APS average base salaries for men ($98,149) and women ($91,016), the gap in the APS is nearly half the national gender pay gap of 13.9% for the same time period. However, it is higher than the gender pay gap for the Public Administration and Safety industry category (6.0%) which is the sector with the lowest pay gap. This demonstrates there is more to be done to reduce the gender pay gap in the APS.”

According to the report, in the APS women are considered to be at pay parity for most classification levels with the differences in these classifications in the range of +/–1%. Graduate, APS 1, SES 2 and SES 3 classifications have slightly higher pay differences.

READ MORE: State of the Service Report recognises APS for its evolution of service in a crisis year

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