Gender

Women

As at March 2016 women made up the majority (72.3 per cent) of the Western Australian public sector workforce. Of these women nearly half (47 per cent) were employed on a part-time basis, compared to 15 per cent of men.

Women, for the most part, assume the majority of caring responsibilities for children or other family members. As such, many choose more family friendly occupations or move to part-time employment which may attribute to the over-representation of women in part-time working arrangements across the public sector. Moving to part-time arrangements can interrupt the career pathways of women and, in turn, place them at risk of being overlooked for leadership roles.

Women made up most of the public sector workforce at the lower Public Service and Government Officers General Agreement 2014 (PSGOGA) equivalent salary bands (Level 6 and below). Approximately 80 per cent of public sector employees at the Level 1 equivalent salary band (up to

$57 376 per annum) were women.7 At Level 7 and above the percentage of women steadily declines.

Figure 3: Gender distribution (%) at each classification level in the Western Australian public sector March 2016


Figure 3

Female level 1 79.8%, Male Level 1 20.2%.
Female level 2 78.7%, Male Level 2 21.3%.
Female Level 3 71.9%, Male Level 3 28.1%.
Female Level 4 63.0%, Male Level 4 37.0%.
Female Level 5 71.4%, Male Level 5 28.6%.
Female Level 6 69.3%, Male Level 6 30.7%.
Female Level 7 52.9%, Male Level 7 47.1%.
Female Level 8 44.0%, Male Level 8 56.0%.
Female Level 9 43.3%, Male Level 9 56.7%.
Female Class 1+ 32.2%, Male Class 1+ 67.8%.


Table 9: Representation of women in management

  Category of employment

Representation (%)

2012

2013

2014

2015

2016

Public sector

SES

27.6

29.2

30.1

31.7

32.9

Tier 1

31.4

26.2

29.3

27.3

22.9

Tier 2

33.7

35.4

34.8

36.2

38.2

Tier 3

40.5

42.0

42.7

41.7

42.8

Local government authority (LGA)

Tier 1 (Indoor workers)

7.9

8.6

12.3

12.3

8.8

Tier 2 (Indoor workers)

34.2

32.1

30.0

33.0

33.3

Tier 2 (Outdoor workers)

6.9

1.6

1.8

6.7

8.6

Tier 3 (Indoor workers)

38.0

37.2

38.0

42.8

45.5

Tier 3 (Outdoor workers)

9.3

11.0

6.7

7.8

12.4

Public universities

Tier 1 (Academic and general staff)

25.0

25.0

25.0

25.0

25.0

Tier 2 (Academic and general staff)

39.1

33.3

36.4

29.4

44.4

Tier 3 (Academic and general staff)

36.4

40.8

47.2

44.5

44.1

Other authorities

Tier 1

5.3

10.0

5.0

5.9

11.8

Tier 2

18.3

19.1

17.6

19.0

23.5

Tier 3

20.7

19.5

27.0

24.4

21.4

Source: EEO surveys and HRMOIR

Table 10 below shows the female distribution across salary levels ('equity index') in public employment. An 'equity index' of 100 is ideal, with an 'equity index' of less than 100 indicating that females, as a group, are concentrated at lower salary levels for a particular category of employment.

Table 10: Female distribution ('equity index')

  Category of employment

Distribution

2012

2013

2014

2015

2016

Public sector

Public sector (All staff)

69

71

72

72

74

Local government authority (LGA)

LGA (Indoor workers)

79

81

78

77

76

LGA (Outdoor workers)

87

88

84

86

99

Public universities

Public universities (Academic staff)

71

72

70

72

75

Public universities (General staff)

83

84

85

85

85

Other authorities

Other authorities (All staff)

66

65

71

66

74

Source: EEO surveys and HRMOIR

While the issues and data remain largely the same, the conversation and discussion has shifted markedly—we have moved beyond having to make the case for change to a much broader acceptance of gender equality in the workforce and how to find tangible solutions. Balancing the Future: The Australian Public Service Gender Equality Strategy 2016–19, a strategy to address gender imbalance across the Australian Public Service at all levels and in all agencies, aims to create an environment in which merit is applied properly and fairly through reportable targets, the removal of barriers, such as hidden biases and adopting work arrangements that balance choice with operational requirements.

Although the merits of implementing gender equality are widely recognised as being beneficial to organisations and employees, what is less known is how agencies successfully implement gender equality initiatives. The Public Sector Commission, in collaboration with the DEOPE, will participate in a research project coordinated by UNSW Australia (Canberra) to examine how agencies implement gender equality initiatives.

The results of the research project will assist agencies to embed gender equality in their workplaces and may also provide a model to ensure the successful implementation of initiatives to progress equality for other groups of employees. Dr Martin Lee Parkinson PSM, Secretary of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet (PMC), has given his support to the research project and PMC will also participate.

The DEOPE, in partnership with the Public Sector Commission, is currently developing a gender equality strategy as part of the Time for action commitment. It is envisaged that the strategy will be released in late 2016.

In focus

Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) put on 'Steel Heels' for gender equity

Established in 2012, CEOs for Gender Equity (CGE) is an Equal Opportunity Commission initiative which brings together influential CEOs from the corporate, not-for-profit and government sectors to progress gender equity in Western Australia. The aim of CGE is to inspire and influence Western Australian CEOs to put gender equity on their agenda, share their experiences with colleagues, and campaign for initiatives that 'turn-the-dial' in Western Australia. CGE focuses on the three key areas of education, workplace flexibility and women in leadership.

In 2016 CGE partnered with 'Steel Heels', an organisation established to assist women to transition through career and life stages, to offer a three-month membership of 'Steel Heels' to all female employees of CGE members. Like CGE, 'Steel Heels' is committed to addressing gender equality and supporting women's success, particularly in the workplace. Through their blogs, stories and toolkits, 'Steel Heels' hopes to provide women with access to a wealth of information and increase the self-confidence of professional working women in a range of areas including performance reviews, pay negotiations, job interviews, networking, personal branding, public speaking and career planning.

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI)

One section of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) community, which is often ignored, is transgender employees. A transgender employee is one whose gender identity or gender expression differs from the gender assumptions made about them when they were born.

Many transgender employees are still reluctantto 'come out' in the workplace as they fear it may damage their career prospects. Data from the 2012 Out Now Global LGBT2020 study revealed that transgender people prefer, where they can, to choose employers that have well promoted and well supported Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) policies.8 People managers have a key role in supporting transgender employees by ensuring their organisation has an open and inclusive environment where employees are comfortable to be themselves at work.

On 16 June 2016 the DEOPE and the Acting Commissioner for Equal Opportunity hosted Acknowledging sexual and gender diversity: creating transgender inclusive workplaces, a forum promoting best practice for preventing discrimination against transgender employees in the workplace.

A panel comprising respected and prominent public sector and community leaders discussed the legal context regarding transgender employees and ways to promote an inclusive culture which acknowledges diversity and prevents discrimination. This discussion has led to an expansion of how gender is viewed and its implication for data collection across the public sector. The description of gender is often pigeonholed as being either male or female. However, there are also other categories of gender identity that allow people to identify across a broader spectrum.

The DEOPE, in partnership with the Public Sector Commission, is currently developing a LGBTI strategy as part of the Time for action commitment. It is envisaged that the strategy will be released in late 2016.

In focus

Championing change in LGBTI awareness

The ALLY Network was set up to create an inclusive culture at The University of Western Australia (UWA) and to acknowledge diversity by promoting greater visibility and awareness of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex staff and students.

Since its inception in 2002 the ALLY Network has recruited many staff and student 'Allies' across campus, making a significant contribution to an inclusive culture at UWA. The ALLY Network aims to:

  • provide a visible group of identified 'Allies' to the LGBTI community
  • create a safe, nurturing, inclusive and affirming campus environment
  • build a support and advocacy network through education
  • develop further awareness and visibility of LGBTI staff and students and related issues
  • meet quarterly for social gatherings and other awareness-raising events.

The ALLY Network provided the impetus for UWA to successfully 'deepen' its LGBTI- inclusion program in recent years. The breadth of activity in this area by UWA has been recognised, with UWA securing a 'TOP 5 Employer for LGBTI-inclusion' position in the Australian Workplace Equality Inclusion (AWEI) Index in 2016.

The DEOPE is currently working with UWA to explore rolling out the ALLY Network across the Western Australian public sector in early 2017.

7 Department of Commerce (WA), Public Service and Government Officers General Agreement 2014, Schedule 2, General Division Salaries, p. 76.

8 Forbes 2014, How To Support Transgender Employees In The Workplace.


Page last updated 15 September 2016