New Zealand has an enviable international reputation as a country where it is relatively common for women to hold top leadership roles in government and in organisations. Of 36 OECD countries, in 2003 New Zealand had the 4th highest representation of women in senior management with 31% of such positions held by women. However, by 2009 New Zealand had slipped to 17th position with 27% representation.
The New Zealand Public Service in particular has traditionally had higher representation levels of women in senior management with 34% in 2001 climbing to a new high 40% in 2010. The proportion of women in public service chief executive roles averaged 23% per year for the years 2001 to 2006. However, it has declined from a high of 26% (9 out of 35) in 2005 to 14% (5 out of 35) in late 2010.
This paper focuses on appointments to CE positions in the New Zealand Public Service and in particular it examines:
- the extent to which women are applying for, being shortlisted for and being appointed to Public Service chief executive positions over the last decade
- the extent to which women are represented in the potential pool for CE appointments and the previous roles of CE appointees
- what can be done to increase the number of women who apply for and are appointed to Public Service chief executive positions.