Celebrating the Contribution of Women to Public Sector Excellence

The Institute established a reference group in 2011 to develop a series of activities which highlight the contribution of women to public sector excellence and give voice to their achievements. The Group was Chaired by Emeritus Professor Meredith Edwards AM and included:

· Glenys Beauchamp PSM, Secretary, Department of Industry;

· Catherine Fox, Deputy Editor, Australian Financial Review BOSS;

· Virginia Haussegger, Journalist, Author, Media Commentator &TV News Presenter;

· Sally Moyle, Branch Manager, Office for Women;

· Monica Pfeffer, Director Applied Learning,  The Australia and New Zealand School of Government;

· Judy Tyers, Former Director of Applied Learning, The Australia and New Zealand School of Government; and

· Elizabeth Whitelaw, Canberra Chair of Partners, Minter Ellison.

The Group decided that developing a series of activities which highlights the contribution of women to public sector excellence and gave voice to their achievements was an important project for sustaining commitment to workplace equality. It was argued that the project should emphasize a celebration of achievement rather than bemoaning the structural obstacles to gender equality. It was also noted, however, that it was important to develop a methodology of engagement which allowed for identification of such obstacles and the subsequently develop a set of policy prescriptions.



On 16 November 2010, the Institute launched the series with Adjunct Professor Virginia Haussegger interviewing three spectacular public servants – Ms Lisa Paul AO PSM, Ms Tu Pham PSM and Ms Roxanne Missingham – on a pre-determined set of topics such as where women are at in the public service, how they understand their history, what they aspire to be, what they see equality as, what this means for job design and work-life balance and how they have been able to negotiate institutional obstacles and rise to the top.

On 4 August 2011, Dame Quentin Bryce AD, CVO, the 25th Governor-General of Australia gave the opening address at the event Leadership: Does Gender make a make a Difference? prior to a panel discussion involving the ACT Chief Minister, Ms Katy Gallagher MLA, the Executive Director of McCarthy Mentoring, Ms Wendy McCarthy AO, former Senator for South Australia, Ms Natasha Stott Despoja AM, and the former Chief Commissioner, Victoria Police, Ms Christine Nixon APM. The discussion was chaired by Virginia Haussegger.

The Institute in early 2013 undertook a study of the perceptions of senior men and women on the cultural and systemic barriers affecting recruitment, retention and promotion of senior women in the Australian Public Service (APS). Six APS agencies agreed to be part of this study: The departments of Defence, Finance, Prime Minister and Cabinet, Human Services, Infrastructure and FaCHSIA. The findings were compiled into a report titled 'Not Yet 50/50: Barriers to the Progress of Senior Women in the APS' and was discussed in a Parliamentary Triangle Forum held on 25 July 2013. The representatives of the departments  - Ms Jan Mason, Deputy Secretary of the Business, Procurement and Asset Management Group in the Department of Finance and Deregulation (Finance), Ms Renée Leon PSM, Secretary of the Department of Employment and Dr Martin Parkinson PSM Secretary to the Treasury were invited to be on a panel to discuss about what could and would be done to address the findings.

The video link to this event can be found below:


Women and the public service: too few at the top