A three-year research has revealed serious gender imbalances in Australia’s worldwide relations sector, despite some prominent trailblazers.

Danielle Cave, Alex Oliver, Jenny Hayward-Jones, Kelsey Munro, Erin Harris

Key Findings

  • Australia’s worldwide relations sector includes a gender that is severe in its workforce, despite some notable trailblazers in a couple of prominent functions.
  • The sector just isn’t acting swiftly sufficient to deal with the instability, with less feamales in essential diplomatic and cleverness roles, policy-shaping tasks and senior jobs in contrast to worldwide peers, the sector that is corporate the general public sector in general.
  • This imbalance has to be addressed when it comes to sector in order to make its workforces more efficient and revolutionary, utilizing the most readily useful available skill to navigate Australia’s destination within an world that is increasingly complex.

Executive Overview

Australia’s worldwide relations sector — the divisions and organisations which can be accountable for performing Australia’s worldwide relations — features a gender that is severe with its workforce. While there has been notable trailblazers, the speed of modification was sluggish and uneven over the sector. Several most significant postings that are diplomatic ever been held by a female. Ladies usually do not come in the sector’s key activities that are policy-shaping. Dramatically less women can be increasing to senior roles within the sector weighed against the Australian public sector in general, worldwide peers, therefore the sector that is corporate. The sex instability within the Australian Intelligence Community is specially pronounced.

It’s important when it comes to sector to handle this imbalance. An even more diverse workforce can not only better mirror Australian society, but take advantage of the available skill pool. There was significant proof from the personal sector that gender-balanced workforces tend to be more effective, efficient, and revolutionary. Before the sector better represents Australian culture it does not utilize the most useful available skill to navigate Australia’s destination within an world that is increasingly complex.


Australia’s worldwide relations sectorrelations that are international1 features a sex issue. Whether or not the focus is Australia’s diplomatic envoys, federal government departments with worldwide functions, academia or think tanks, or even the Australian Parliament, there is certainly a severe shortage of senior ladies serving into the most significant and strategic functions either in Australia or abroad.

There has been trailblazers when you look at the sector, especially in the last years that are few. During the early 2019 in Australia, we now have a lady Foreign Minister, Senator Marise Payne; a new feminine defence Minister, Senator Linda Reynolds; Shadow Foreign Affairs Minister, Senator Penny Wong; and Secretary regarding the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), Frances Adamson. In the last few years we now have additionally seen A prime that is female ministerJulia Gillard) and Governor-General (Quentin Bryce), plus the country’s first female Foreign Minister (Julie Bishop) and Defence Minister (Senator Payne), and very very first feminine Secretaries of general general public solution divisions. There were two female ambassadors to Asia and Australia’s very very first female Defence cleverness agency director.2 On these examples, it’s tempting to summarize that the sector’s gender diversity challenges are mainly settled, which is real that there is significant progress.

A comprehensive analysis associated with the data, nonetheless, causes it to be clear that the rate of modification is sluggish and therefore the sector is well behind other people in both Australia and abroad.

Female Minds of Mission

For instance, there never been an ambassador that is female high commissioner to Washington DC, Jakarta, Tokyo or London3 and just around one-third of Australian ambassadors, high commissioners, and minds of objective are women.4 One-quarter associated with influential Secretaries Committee on National safety are females, a growth from none in 2015/16 while the greatest within the committee’s history.5 Simply over a 3rd of people of parliament are ladies.6 The sex instability of this Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and safety can also be striking. Since its inception in 1998, the Committee hasn’t been chaired with a feminine mp as well as for almost 50 % of that point has received no feminine people at all, including as recently as 2015. Feminine account happens to be 27 %, up from 18 % when you look at the last parliament.7parliament that is last

Just four times of all time have females headed Australia’s internationally concentrated service that is public and agencies.8 When it comes to purposes with this research, these are DFAT, Attorney-General’s Department, Department of Defence, Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP)/Department of Home Affairs,9 Department regarding the Prime Minister and Cabinet (PM&C), plus Treasury, the Australian Federal Police (AFP), and Austrade.10 Also included will be the six major agencies associated with the Australian Intelligence Community (AIC),11 three of which sit in the Defence Department.12

You will find far less feamales in the senior management of these organisations in comparison to the common over the Australian Public provider (APS).13 Just 14 percent of minds of divisions and agencies within the scholarly research are ladies (2 in 14),14 compared to 50 percent of Commonwealth federal federal government division heads overall15 and 31 % of all of the APS agency minds.16 Around 45 % for the senior administrator solution (SES) over the general general general public solution are female,17 in comparison with only 33 % regarding the senior professional associated with the core internationally-facing divisions and agencies in this research.18

Women are under-represented within the AIC general, specially at senior levels19 and across technical, functional, and analytical functions.20 While there’s been a noticable difference in senior representation that is female some agencies within the AIC in the past couple of years (the Australian Security Intelligence organization (ASIO) is notable, with 42 % of females in its SES in 2018 in contrast to 34 % 2 yrs earlier, as it may be the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD), with present efforts using ladies in its SES to 56 per cent21), feminine existence when you look at the senior administrator solution over the AIC is well underneath the APS average. In a few mail order bride service agencies it offers declined within the last five years, dropping as little as 9 % within the working office of National Assessments (ONA; now Office of National Intelligence) in 2016 and 24 % averaged throughout the three cleverness agencies within Defence.22

Finally, females seldom function within the sector’s key policy-shaping tasks. Through the study’s research on announced authorship, a female is yet to be chosen to lead on any major international policy, defence, cleverness, or trade white paper, inquiry or separate review.23

This three-year research of sex stability into the sector is founded on a comprehensive data-gathering and analysis procedure that has gathered and brought together the very first time 2 full decades of information on sex representation over the sector. This consists of service that is public information from Australia’s 14 international-facing federal government divisions and agencies; an analysis of this gender stability in international postings over the sector; the workers of appropriate parliamentary committees; complete historic information on leadership of Australia’s international missions; gender-based safety approval information; overview of the sector’s gender and diversity policies and social audits, and authorship of most major policy-setting exercises within the sector. The investigation was supplemented with a considerable survey that is qualitative of participants (male and female) employed in the sector: “Gender Diversity and Australia’s International Relations”; in addition to in-person interviews with about 50 executives, minds of division, and senior leaders throughout the sector to analyze what causes the sector’s general not enough progress in handling its sex instability. The findings suggest that the sector lags notably behind the rest of Australia’s service that is public also corporate Australia in handling workforce sex inequalities, specially in the senior professional and leadership amounts.