MINISTER FOR EQUALITY, Kathleen Lynch, has said engaging more women on state and corporate boards is a vital step for gender equality.
She was speaking at the Women into Public Life Millennium Forum, which is a cross border project, yesterday.
Lynch said she suggested to her fellow gender equality ministers in Europe that “the principal barrier to the appointment of women is one of blindness on the part of the corporate world to the skill set and educational attainments of the modern business woman and the contribution they make to corporate life”.
She said she believes these observations are equally relevant to the engagement of women in public sector decision making.
“We know that women are now, on average, the better educated sex, accounting for over 60 per cent of graduates in recent years,” she said.
“In this regard Ireland is, or should I say Irish women are, now out-performing Europe.”
Lynch said while the government has been committed to increasing women’s participation on state boards for some twenty years, there has been little improvement in the past couple of years.
She also said the overall figure of 34 per cent does not reflect sectoral differences, with socially focused boards such as those dealing with health and education have a significant representation of women. Some of the economics boards have a female representation of well below 25 per cent.
The minister added that it may fall to Ireland to advance gender equality work across Europe when we take over the European Union Presidency next January.