Women in the APS: better than the ASX, still work to do

The public sector outperforms private enterprise on gender diversity in the workplace. But there are still barriers to keep women employed.

Thanks to early legislation and strong commitment from those in leadership, the Australian public service continues to outperform the private sector on equality for women. But there is still room to improve.

While women only comprise 9.2% of senior executives in ASX500 companies, they make up 41% of SES employees in the APS.

Claire Braund of Women on Boards argues the public sector’s success comes down to the fact that it has offered better conditions and opportunities to women for a long time. Braund says the public sector has “had a paid parental leave scheme for many years. They have better employment conditions. Lots of women go to the public service because they can guarantee when they come back from parental leave that their job will be there.”

Although private sector companies are supposed to keep a position available for when a woman comes back from maternity leave, says Braund, she has seen “quite large numbers of people who are being laid off while they are on paid parental leave”.

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