Women on State bodies


Madam, - I read with interest Kieran Mills's letter (July 25th) on women in State and local bodies and I would like to describe further the current playing field. There are only four women chairs of city and county councils in this country and only one female secretary general out of 17 Government departments. You probably don't need to be told that you are only one of two female editors of either a national or local newspaper and there are only a handful of female CEOs of large firms in this country. As Mr Mills said there are more important issues which need to be challenged than the membership of golf-courses.

In his final paragraph Mr Mills wished for a level playing field for the female students he is now teaching. Considering there has been little or no change in more than 12 years since the Government made a commitment to address the gender imbalance on State boards it is clear, as Mr Mills stated, that proactive measures need to be taken. This is all the more apparent when you look at statistics for boards which have a science or technology bias.

In a bid to redress this imbalance, the national association, Women in Technology and Science, (WITS: www.witsireland.com) is currently looking for 200-plus women to include in a "Talent Bank" which will be comprised of women who are leaders or experts in their field of science, engineering or technology. Wits will publish this directory in spring 2004 and it will be distributed to various nominating bodies, including government ministers. Wits believes that this initiative will significantly increase women's opportunities to contribute to policy making, and will be an effective tool in redressing the balance on boards and high-level committees, as a common reason cited for not appointing women is the difficulty in locating suitable candidates.

I would like to invite your readers to consider nominating themselves or to suggest potential candidates for this directory. The closing date for nominations is September 15th. Further information can be found on our website or by contacting me.

I am happy to say that the "Talent Bank Project" is funded by the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform, under the National Development Plan's "equality for women measure". With this and other initiatives maybe the digger has been hired to speed up the "levelling" work and a fairer and more effective democracy lies ahead. We now just need some drivers!

Yours etc., -

ELIZABETH CREED, PO Box 2, Kinsale, Co Cork.