18 September 2023

Gender parity breakthrough in the APS: SES Band 2 the latest glass ceiling to smash

| Chris Johnson
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Katy Gallagherin front of display

Public Service Minister Katy Gallagher has welcomed gender parity being reached for SES2. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

The Australian Public Service is reaching gender parity across classifications, with the proportion of female employees equalling that of male employees at most levels.

A breakthrough of note is the Senior Executive Service band 2-level where women now fill 50.1 per cent of positions.

Employment data just released by the Australian Public Service Commission show that as of June this year, gender parity has been reached from APS1 through to SES2 levels.

The SES band 3 cohort is continuing an upward trend and nearing parity at 47.4 per cent.

With a relatively low number of SES3 roles, it will only take the appointment of four more women for parity to be reached at that level.

At 30 June this year, women accounted for 60.4 per cent of the APS workforce, as they did the year before.

But the overall employee numbers grew 6.9 per cent to 170,332, an increase of 11,041.

Over the last year, 58.5 per cent of ongoing employees entering the SES were women.

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The proportion of women at the SES1 level has reached 54.7 per cent, making the total proportion of women across the three SES bands 53.4 per cent.

Public Service Minister Katy Gallagher welcomed the milestone.

“The fact that women have achieved parity at every level from APS1 to SES Band 2 is certainly reason to celebrate,” she said.

“The Albanese Government has said since day one that we want the APS to be a model employer, and as the Minister for the Public Service and the Minister for Women, it gives me great pride to see our public service leading by example.

“This isn’t just about representation, it is also about women’s economic equality and ensuring that women are being afforded the same leadership opportunities that their male counterparts are and the pay packets that come with those roles.

“Earlier this year, I announced that the APS’s gender pay gap hit a record low of 5.2 per cent and I look forward to continuing to drive gender equality in the APS through bargaining outcomes and parental leave reform in response to the APS commissioner’s review of the Maternity Leave Act.”

According to the data, the year-on-year increase in the overall workforce is mostly due to an increase in the number of ongoing employees, which grew by 10,226 (7.3 per cent).

The number of non-ongoing employees increased by 815 (4.4 per cent) over the financial year, and as at 30 June 2023 made up 11.3 per cent of the APS.

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Between 1 July 2022 and 30 June 2023, there were 22,031 ongoing employee engagements (an increase of 22.3 per cent from 2021-22), and 11,798 ongoing employee separations (an increase of 5.9 per cent from 2021-22).

The APS separation rate for 2022-23 was 8.1 per cent, unchanged from the previous financial year.

There are 6002 First Nations employees in the APS, an increase of 49 employees from the previous year but a slight proportional representation drop from 3.7 per cent to 3.5 per cent.

There are 8734 people with a recorded disability employed in the APS, an increase of 702 employees.

The APSC tracks the size of the APS by measuring the headcount of APS employees. The current APS employment data release covers 99 agencies.

This data release complements the annual State of the Service Report, which draws on a range of information in addition to the biannual June data release.

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William Newby10:02 pm 11 Oct 23

60% female in the APS, still not content they want that remaining 40% dead or restricted to EL1 and below.
Pity the male graduates of 2023, they statistically have less than zero chance.

John Schwazer1:41 pm 19 Sep 23

Imagine getting hired as quota meeter. How useless you should feel

Teaching is like 95% women?
Having a male role model as a teacher is something that is a lifelong benefit.

Absolutely nothing is done though. In the case of one of the private schools that tried to promote males, they ran a program that was aimed at men. They got told by fair work that they had to run the same program for women. However the male take up rate was very poor and all the money went to the ladies.

Gender quotas hurts the long running reputation of women as more and more underskilled and qualified workers get put into positions they should be. Those that are worked hard also just get viewed as a diversity hire.

HiddenDragon8:03 pm 18 Sep 23

Stats on the proportion of pearl wearers in the upper echelons of the APS are all very well for people for obsess about that sort of thing, but politicians of all persuasions who might wonder about some of the seemingly inexplicable stuff-ups and misjudgements produced by the APS (even allowing for “the consultants ate my homework” or “the minister made me do it” excuses) should be looking at diversity/representativeness beyond gender and the other indicators outlined here –


Certainly in the case of the Canberra-centric SES, and without going too far down the road of Marxism, it would be timely to look at issues including the proportion who come from a clerical public sector background and a few other socio-economic indicators, such as the proportion whose parents or grandparents were university educated.

Digging into these sorts of issues might give some clues (or not, to be fair) as to whether the senior ranks of the APS have, by and large, become the comfortable preserve of comfortable middle and upper middle class types who like the world pretty much as it is – except to the extent that it could be made even nicer for them and people like them.

Gosh how exciting.
Next we can get some gender equity in diesel fitting, bricklaying and plumbing.

So when is the APS going to enact policies to ensure more males are employed to redress the clear gender employment gap with over 60% of the workforce being female?

*crickets chirping*

Balance needed1:18 pm 18 Sep 23

Exactly. How many years, and how much greater does the gender disparity have to grow before affirmative action needs to be taken.

William Newby10:12 pm 11 Oct 23

Catch up chewy, it’s only discrimination if it is impacting females or people from other nations. White males are canon fodder in 2023; as the father of 3 young boys I really don’t know what chance they will have of fair employment in decades to come, the APS possibly won’t even accept applications from white males by then. Getting trades over securing desk jobs as professional wafflers is probably where they will end up. Even the ADF which was once a proud career is now the domain of quotas and themes, I won’t let my kids waste their lives in the APS, Hollowwomen.

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