Wednesday 17 January 2018

Minister will favour women for State jobs

Naughten to 'positively discriminate' for boards

Gender row: Naughten Photo: Arthur Carron
Gender row: Naughten Photo: Arthur Carron
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

A minister is to "positively discriminate" in favour of women who apply for State boards on the grounds that they "tend to be more questioning".

Communications Minister Denis Naughten wants to tip the gender balance on boards under his remit to the point where they are made up of 60pc women.

Existing rules state that at least 40pc of a board must be made up of men or women - but in the vast majority of cases there are more men than women. As many as one in three boards fails to reach the gender quota.

Mr Naughten told the Sunday Independent: "I'd love to be in a predicament where I have to appoint a man in order to reach the 40pc quota rather than the other way around.

"Women tend to be far more questioning than men and that's what a board is about. Questioning the senior management and the CEO of whatever the board is, and to make sure that they are making the right decisions in the interests of the taxpayer and the public."

There are currently 23 vacancies on boards under the aegis of the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment, with two more expected to arise later this month.

These include two positions on the board of the Irish Film Institute, which is currently 87.5pc male. The boards of the National Oil Reserves Agency and the Mining Board are comprised entirely of men, while the Environmental Protection Agency and Bord na Mona boards are 83pc male.

RTE is one of the few State boards where the balance is tipped in favour of women, with 55pc of its members being female.

Mr Naughten said that women tend to follow the criteria for applications much more closely than men, who will often take a chance.

"Women tend to be far more hesitant and say 'well I've only got three out of the four criteria', whereas a man traditionally if he has half of one of the eligibility criteria will say 'I'll try anyway'," he said.

"Will I positively discriminate in favour of qualified women? The answer is yes.

"The difficultly I have had is that I haven't had the qualified women presented to me," the minister added.

Sunday Independent

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