Taoiseach launches the first ever gender equality policy for the civil service.

Following the publication of a report criticising gender imbalance in the civil service, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern launches the first gender equality policy for government departments.

The Institute of Public Administration (IPA) report published in 2000 by Peter C Humphreys, Eileen Drew and Candy Murphy found that women in the civil service have traditionally been under-represented in higher grades and over-represented in clerical grades.

Their research also showed that women enter the civil service at lower levels and progress more slowly and on average earn less than their male colleagues.

While more than seventy per cent of clerical and executive level posts are occupied by women, there is a stark contrast at higher levels, where only twenty three per cent of senior management grades are held by women.

At the launch of the policy today, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern claimed that the new gender equality policy will put an end to a culture that was unfair to women and bad for the country, and described the report's findings as troubling.

The fact that the numbers haven't changed in the last ten years or so is something of a disgrace.

Revenue Commissioner Josephine Feehily who authored the policy says that a much higher proportion of women balance work and family responsibilities than men. Women are less likely than men to put themselves forward for promotion in a workplace where,

The culture is not generally supportive of women's advancement.

One step to re-addressing the gender imbalance in government departments is the introduction of flexible working arrangements for senior managers and departments, and the first goal of the new policy will be to ensure that one-third of assistant principal positions will be filled by women by 2005.

An RTÉ News report broadcast on 25 September 2001. The reporter is Orla O’Donnell.