Women 'still fail promotion race': Figures show men's firm grip on top posts

WOMEN are failing to make significant inroads into senior positions in Whitehall, the judiciary and public services, with men still filling more than 9 out of 10 top posts, a new report discloses.

Last night, the Government was strongly criticised by Elizabeth Symons, leader of the First Division Association, which represents the most senior civil servants, for failing to meet its Opportunity 2000 commitment in 1991 to promote more women. She said: 'By any standards that was a modest proposal (of filling 15 per cent of senior posts with women). Decisive action will be required if the Government is to change attitudes that hold back women.'

A five-yearly report to the United Nations shows that women are still hugely under- represented in the judiciary, Parliament and senior positions in the Civil Service, police and prison service. Only 7.2 per cent of senior members of the judiciary are women and just 3 per cent of ambassadors in the diplomatic service are female.

The FDA has also released figures showing that only 8.1 per cent of senior civil servants are women - a proportion unchanged in the past year. Six government departments remain men-only, including the Department for Education and Inland Revenue, while the Ministry of Defence has only two women among 60 senior staff.

Joanna Foster, former chair of the Equal Opportunities Commission, said: 'In 1994, many people are saying why bother with equal opportunities for women.'

She called for a 'carrot and stick' approach - employers should face legal action over discrimination but they should also be encouraged to promote women.

The Government, in its report to the UN, states: 'There has been significant progress for women at all levels of the Civil Service since 1984 - both in numbers getting to the top and improvements in work conditions.'

FIGURES SHOW MEN'S FIRM GRIP ON TOP POSTS THE Government's fourth report to the United Nations Human Rights Committee reveals that in public life: Women account for 9 per cent of MPs and 10 per cent of the members of Commons Select Committees.

The House of Lords has 79 women - 6 per cent.

Two members of Cabinet are women.

Women make up 7.2 per cent of the senior judiciary: one Lady Justice, six High Court judges, 29 circuit judges, 41 recorders, 59 assistant recorders.

Of the 127,000 police officers in England and Wales, 13 per cent are women, with just 356 in ranks above sergeant.

About 9 per cent of the governor grades in the Prison Service are filled by women.

Women make up about half the Civil Service but hold few top jobs. While 29 per cent of staff in the diplomatic service are women, only 3 per cent are at ambassadorial level.

At the top of the Civil Service (grades 1-4) women hold 9 per cent of jobs - about 58 out of 652. Two out of 34 permanent secretaries (the most senior departmental post) are women - Barbara Mills, Director of Public Prosecutions, and Valerie Strachan at Customs and Excise.

In Northern Ireland, women fill 8 per cent of Civil Service grades five and above.

One out of sixteen senior civil servants at the Treasury and Department of Agriculture is female. The Department of Trade and Industry and the Department of Employment have one senior woman to 11 men.

In 1993, women held 28 per cent of appointments to public bodies.

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