Female educational attainment ‘not reflected in politics’

Meeting told number of women in Oireachtas at same level as Burkina Faso and below UAE

Barbara Nolan, Irish head of the EU Commission Representation in Ireland Photograph has said it is time that the percentage of Irish women attaining high levels of education is reflected in decision making roles in politics and business. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times.

Barbara Nolan, Irish head of the EU Commission Representation in Ireland Photograph has said it is time that the percentage of Irish women attaining high levels of education is reflected in decision making roles in politics and business. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times.

Tue, Dec 3, 2013, 21:41

It is time that the percentage of Irish women attaining high levels of education is reflected in decision making roles in politics and business, the head of the EU Commission representation in Ireland told an event held in Dublin tonight.

Barbara Nolan noted that over 36 per cent of Irish women have a third level education, well above the EU average. “It’s time to really work out how to make that figure translate into decision making roles,” she said.

Ms Nolan said there had been many positive developments since Ireland joined the European Union in 1973. However, she said the statistics around women’s equality in Ireland were not where they should be.

“Female representation in the Oireachtas is well below EU average at 16 per cent, on the same percentage as Burkina Faso (and) less than Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates,” she said, adding that the percentage of female ministers was also very low at 13 per cent.

However, she said that the 42 per cent of Irish MEPs were women, a “welcome statistical anomaly”.

She said the fact that some political parties in Ireland had decided voluntarily to implement gender quotas for the local elections had “already lit some fires”, adding that this provided a great opportunity for “female candidates to prove their mettle”.

Ms Nolan noted the EU Commisison had set out a proposal that 40 per cent of non-executive board members of large companies should be women by 2020. It initially invited companies to sign a pledge to reach this goal voluntarily.

“Very few companies signed that pledge and in Ireland not one single company signed that pledge,” she said.

Some 100 people attended the event organised by Women for Election, a non-partisan organisation which aims to increase female representation in Irish politics.

A panel discussion chaired by broadcaster and businesswoman Norah Casey included contributions by TDs Lucinda Creighton, Regina Doherty and Mary Lou McDonald, senators Ivana Bacik and Averil Power, and former Green Party TD Mary White.

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