Poll: Do you think gender quotas for top civil service jobs are a good idea?

Public expenditure minister Paschal Donohoe wants an even split in senior roles.

By Conor McMahon Reporter, Fora

THE MINISTER FOR Public Expenditure and Reform Paschal Donohoe has announced that female candidates will be prioritised in applications for senior civil service jobs.

Outlining a plan to achieve an equal gender split in top civil service roles, Donohoe’s department said female applicants will be given preference for high-level vacancies on boards where women are under-represented.

It said the “merit-based approach of ‘best person for the job’ will continue to apply”, but in cases of equal merit a female candidate would get priority.

Today, two out of 15 secretary-generals in government departments are female - Orlaigh Quinn in the Department for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, and Niamh O’Donoghue in the Department for Social Protection.

However, government-mandated gender quotas have run into a few roadblocks in the past.

Minister for Sport Shane Ross clashed with a junior minister last month over a proposal to cut state funding to sporting bodies that didn’t achieve a 30% gender quota on their boards.

Ross said that he agreed that there needed to be greater female representation on sporting bodies, but did “not favour punitive measures, especially as a weapon to be used against smaller non-governmental bodies”.

With that in mind, we’re asking Fora readers this week: Do you think gender quotas for top civil service jobs are a good idea?