Wednesday, 5 April 1995
Dáil Éireann Debate
24. Dr. Woods asked the Minister for Finance his views on whether the representation of women in the higher grades of the Civil Service is adequate; if he has identified the discriminatory factors that block the advancement of women into these grades; and the action, if any, he proposes to take to end this discrimination. [4887/95]
Minister for Finance (Mr. Quinn): I am committed to a policy of equality of opportunity for all Civil Service staff. In this context, I am, naturally, anxious to see a better gender balance at senior levels in the Civil Service and every effort is and has been made to ensure that there are no barriers, hidden or  otherwise, preventing women from progressing to the highest positions. I believe that significant progress has beeen made in this direction. Although there are as yet no women serving as secretary to a Government Department, the representation of women at assistant secretary and principal level has increased significantly in recent years.
The Civil Service has been to the forefront among Irish employers in relation to gender equality matters. Policy and guidelines on equal opportunities for the Civil Service have been in place since 1986. They provide a statement of basic principles on which the ongoing development of an equality policy is based.
Each member of staff is provided with a copy of the policy and guidelines booklet. In addition, a series of equality workshops are being held in individual Departments to ensure that line managers and supervisors are fully aware of the policy and to enable them to explore ways of giving the guidelines practical application in their own areas of responsibility. The implementation of the equal opportunities policy in the Civil Service is looked after by the equality section in my Department in close consultation with the Civil Service unions. The review and development of our equality policy is an ongoing process and includes monthly meetings of a joint staff and management equality committee.
Promotion and recruitment competitions held for appointments in the Civil Service are open equally to men and women. Advertisements and circulars announcing external and internal competitions indicate clearly that the Civil Service is committed to a policy of equal opportunity. Members of interview boards convened by the Civil Service Commission are briefed on the Civil Service policy in relation to equality of opportunity and in addition are provided with written guidelines stating the policy in relation to the conducting of interviews.
 Statistics relating to the candidature and outcome of recruitment and promotion competition and membership of interview boards are collected by my Department from the Civil Service Commission and from each Government Department. The information is analysed by my Department, in consultation with the Civil Service unions and is made available to all staff in an annual report. The general pattern emerging from the statistics gives no indication of gender bias in selection for appointments in the Civil Service, either on recruitment or promotion. The results show that, in general, women are at least as successful as men in promotion competitions.
The Civil Service Training Centre provides a training course for women in management grades. The course, which was introduced in 1984, is specifically designed to encourage middle-management grades to develop and enhance their management potential. Participants in the “Women in Management Conference” have the option of becoming part of a women in management network on completion of the course. The network holds half-day workshops about four times a year. Training in relation to equality issues for staff at clerical levels was introduced recently.
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