One in four 'quango' posts go to women

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Indy Politics
JUST OVER a quarter of Whitehall appointments to all public bodies are women, the Cabinet Office said yesterday.

Of the 41,011 appointments to 'quangos', or Non-Departmental Public Bodies, 26.1 per cent were women on 1 September, compared with 23.4 per cent a year before. According to one Whitehall source, that increased proportion marked some success for the Prime Minister's support for Opportunity 2000, the campaign for women's employment parity.

But the detailed breakdown showed some departments doing much better than others, and while the annual quango report gave a breakdown in terms of comparative male-female numbers, there was no separate analysis of status.

While more than a quarter of appointments, overall, were women, only 15 per cent of chairpersons were women, and while the Home Office logged the most distinguished gender ratio - four women for every six men appointed - its figures were completely distorted by boards of visitors, which contained 922 men and 752 women.

Virginia Bottomley, the Secretary of State for Health, has helped to push her department's executive appointments up to 45 per cent for women, but Home Office executive appointments of women, at 15 per cent, compared with 39 per cent of women appointed to Home Office advisory bodies, 7 per cent on tribunals like the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board, and 45 per cent for boards of visitors.

A striking example of some officials' perception of women was provided by the Civil Aviation Authority, with a male chairman on pounds 60,060, 13 male members on salaries ranging from pounds 10,001 to pounds 90,000, and a solitary woman member on a salary range of ' pounds 0- pounds 5,000'.

Yesterday's report also included, for the first time, figures for ethnic minority appointments to public bodies: 2 per cent, of whom 28 per cent were women. That proportion compared with a 4.2 per cent representation in the economically active population, and 5 per cent among non-industrial staff in the civil service.

Public Bodies 1992; HMSO; pounds 12.

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