Average number of women on State boards exceeds 40% for first time

Number of women in senior board positions still ‘lagging significantly behind’, says department

Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan warned that less than half of State boards had reached the minimum 40 per cent target of women on boards. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

More than 40 per cent of positions on State boards are now held by women, the Department of Justice has said.

More than half of those appointed to 203 State board positions last year were women. These appointments only amounted to about a third of the positions filled as others were dealt with by reappointment, on the nomination of external bodies or taken up by ex-officio individuals.

The department commended the rise in female representation over the past year but admitted that the number of women in senior roles was “lagging significantly behind”. Just 27.5 per cent of chair positions are held by women.

Despite the overall rise in female board representation, only one in four women are being appointed to board roles in certain sectors, it added. Some 11 boards still have no female representation.


The department expressed “particular concern” that some State board positions continue to be filled through external nominations and reappointments which do not go through the Public Appointments Service.

Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan also warned that less than half of State boards had reached the minimum 40 per cent target of women on boards.


Minister of State for Equality David Stanton called for a change in the "climate" on State boards so that both women and men feel encouraged to apply for positions.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said on Friday that gender quotas for candidates in Dáil elections would rise to 40 per cent in the next decade, adding that many women were still presented with glass ceilings and barriers to progress.

“Women make up over half our population, half our talent, half our expertise – they cannot continue to be our greatest untapped resource,” he said. “Gender equality is needed so that we can have real freedom for women and men.

Sorcha Pollak

Sorcha Pollak

Sorcha Pollak is an Irish Times reporter and cohost of the In the News podcast