A report into the role of women in the workplace has been released. Not yet 50/50: Barriers to the Progress of Senior Women in the Australian Public Service was published by the Australia and New Zealand School of Government’s Institute for Governance at the University of Canberra.

We know anecdotally that talented executive women typically find it very difficult to break into the senior leadership ranks of the Australian Public Service (APS). Many of our program participants report on the difficulties they face in their APS workplace in finding opportunities to advance in their careers.

This new publication studies the perceptions of both senior men and women about the barriers against promotion of women in the APS, identifying some key issues.

Men overwhelmingly consider “commitment to family responsibilities” as the most important factor hindering women’s career prospects. Very few men perceived there to be no barriers at all. Interviews demonstrated a range of negative perceptions of women, including a lack of commitment as a result of a tension between being at work and being a parent.

Assumptions were made based on the perceived reliability, availability or commitment of female employees with children. This affected the number of opportunities to take on challenging and high-profile work which could be beneficial to career and reputation growth.

Different language was used to describe the focus of various gender-weighted APS departments. Male-dominant APS departments were described as being ‘outcomes focused’ and ‘driven’, with female-dominant APS departments had a wider range of leadership styles including a greater emphasis on communication and networking skills.

Men and women have different perceptions of the inclusiveness of their departments. Women rank their departments as paying “lip service” and “tokenism” to inclusiveness whereas men were more likely to rank their departments as being accepting of women.
These are big issues that reflect the ingrained male-dominated culture of the Australian Public Service. How can talented female executives thrive in this environment, and support other females to achieve their best?

The report has nominated “Establish women’s networks across each department with senior women in sponsorship roles and include success story telling as a regular activity” as one way in which the Australian Public Service can promote female leadership and women in executive positions.

This is exactly what Orijen’s Executive Women’s Business program is designed to do – provide women with direct access to a powerful network of current and future women leaders and a confidential space to connect with other like-minded intelligent women.  

To express your interest in joining the EWB Future Leaders Program, please fill out the below form.