Civil Service 'slow to promote women'

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The Independent Online
THE INLAND REVENUE has been singled out as the government department most resistant to the promotion of women.

The top 26 jobs are held by men in a ministry which boasts of its membership of Opportunity 2000 - the campaign to ensure that women occupy an equal share of the highest positions.

The union which covers senior civil servants, the First Division Association, describes the Inland Revenue as the worst performing department in Whitehall in terms of female managers' rights.

In its latest journal, the association also pointed out that women had failed to get anywhere near the top in the Department of Further Education, where all 17 senior staff are men.

The association acknowledged there had been a slight improvement in the position of women in the Civil Service in the last year, but men still held the overwhelming majority of senior posts.

More than two years after the launch of Opportunity 2000, women held only 57 of the most senior posts out of 640.

Women fared badly in ministries dealing with economic, industrial or technical matters, including the departments of Transport, Trade and Industry, Defence, and the Inland Revenue.

However, women were also seen to do badly in the legal departments, despite a better than average representation among government lawyers. The association reports that the same goes for the Cabinet Office and the Department for Education.

The association was most depressed about the lack of any substantial improvement in positions just below the most senior levels. Because of their low representation in grades 2 and 3, the association believes that it will be many years before women achieve satisfactory representation at the highest levels of the Civil Service.

In Grades 2 to 3, the proportion of women varies from just over one-fifth in the Home Office to zero in the Inland Revenue, the Department for Education and the Lord Chancellor's Department.

A spokeswoman for the Inland Revenue acknowledged that the department was 'in a poor position at the moment'. It had, however, been making progress in lower grades, she said.

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