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Call to tackle 'significant underrepresentation' of women in senior council roles

Just under three in 10 Chief Executive (28%) and Director of Services (26%) roles in local authorities nationally are held by women.

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File photo
Image: Shutterstock/Monkey Business Images

THE GOVERNMENT NEEDS to address the lack of women represented at management level in local authorities across the country, according to Fianna Fáil.

Just under three in 10 Chief Executive (28%) and Director of Services (26%) roles nationally are held by women.

There are no female Chief Executives in councils in Connacht, but Leinster, excluding Dublin, has the lowest percentage (21%) of women in senior positions at local government level.

Women hold 15 of the 58 senior positions in Munster (26%) and nine out of 31 in Connacht (29%).

Dublin has the most balanced management teams, with 48% female representation. This includes the Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council, where seven out of nine Directors of Services are female and the Chief Executive is also a woman.

The figures were released to Fianna Fáil TD Robert Troy in response to a parliamentary question.

Troy said women are “significantly underrepresented” at local government managerial level nationwide, something that “speaks volumes about the priority being placed by the government to ensure real gender equality in positions of authority across Ireland”.

‘Lead by example’ 

Troy said it’s “surprising” that the Government “speaks out nationally about fighting for equality but yet ignores the fact that, under their watch, the gender imbalance of managers and directors within our County Councils sits at 28%/72%”.

“There should be no reason for such low numbers as hundreds of extremely capable women work in our City and County Councils, so it is not a question of talent or resources,” he added, calling on the government “to lead by example if they truly want to effect change”.

When asked about the figures, a spokesperson for the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government said: “All permanent senior management positions with the Local Government sector are recruited through the Public Appointments Service.

While there is no specific gender quota policy in relation to the recruitment of senior management positions with the Local Government sector, PAS is committed to raising awareness, encouraging people to apply, and reaching out to diverse audiences to ensure that our public and civil service and State boards are reflective of the society they serve.

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Gender quotas 

Political parties can lose State funding if they don’t reach a minimum threshold of female candidates. Currently, at least 30% of a party’s candidates in general elections must be women. This will rise to 40% in 2023.

The government plans to roll out a scheme that will give parties additional funding to hire a diversity and equality officer if they run at least 30% female candidates in next year’s local elections.

Fine Gael has 11 female TDs and 38 male TDs, and Fianna Fáil has six female TDs and 39 male TDs. There are currently four female ministers (three Fine Gael and one independent) and three junior ministers (all Fine Gael) in Cabinet.

Earlier this month, Minister with responsibility for Higher Education Mary Mitchell O’Connor announced plans to create 45 female-only senior academic roles within the higher education sector over the next three years.

The move is part of a wider plan which aims to increase the level of female representation in third-level education.

About the author:

Órla Ryan

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