Worldwide Index of Women as Public Sector Leaders

Legislation and policy

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For the past 40 years, governments across the world have implemented measures to address gender inequality in the workplace and have introduced equal opportunity legislation and created protections against discrimination.

For their own public sector workforce, many governments have gone further and introduced policies and guidelines for meritorious employment, quotas and targets, and often attractive maternity, paternity and child care provision.

This has resulted in a relatively high percentage of women pursuing careers in the public sector compared to the private sector. In half the G20 countries, women constitute more the half the public sector workforce.

Nonetheless, our research clearly demonstrates that despite a decreasing pool of men in the overall public sector workforce, the people leading the public sector continue to be largely men. Women are disproportionately represented at lower-level, lower-paying and often part-time employment.

It is clear that legislation makes a difference, but it does not offer all the answers. New laws and progressive policies have succeeded in getting more women into the workforce, but looking beyond the statute book, it is clear that legislation has not enabled more women to take up leadership positions.