Local government failing on gender equality in senior management – IMPACT conference


Sean Reid, Donegal branch
Sean Reid, Donegal branch

IMPACT, the largest public service trade union in Ireland, has voiced its concern over the underrepresentation of women at senior management level in local government.

Delegates of the IMPACT local government divisional conference voted today Wednesday 20th May to identify strategies to improve the problem of gender imbalance at management level in the public service.

Angela Kirk, assistant general secretary with IMPACT said “Research from the Department of Justice and Equality last year tells us that we have the best educated female population in Europe but we do not use this talent to best effect.

“Figures from July 2014 show that of the 31 chief executive posts in local government only seven are held by women; that is 22%. In 2013 at least ten local authorities had no women employed at managerial level, including county manager posts, director of service and heads of finance posts.

“This contrasts sharply with the figures for lower paid positions from a survey in 2013 wherein 83% of grade 3 and grade 4 officers are women earning between €23,000 and €43,000.

 “IMPACT is committed to developing and utilising the best research available and all the influence we can bring to bear on the Local Government Management Agency and the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government to put a concrete strategy in place to redress this imbalance” Ms Kirk said.

Sean Reid, with the Donegal branch spoke at the conference. He said “the marriage bar previously meant that female civil and public servants had to resign their posts when they got married, but it was removed in 1973.

“Thankfully, 42 years later, much has changed. However, in our sector disturbingly there remains an absence of women in senior management roles, despite women making up the majority of the workforce.

“In my own local authority of Donegal, there has never been a female director of services or a female county manager. Maybe we’re not nearly as modern as we like to think.”