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A study of gender in senior civil service positions in Ireland


  • Russell, Helen
  • Watson, Dorothy
  • McCoy, Selina
  • Grotti, Raffaele
  • Kenny, Oona


Women make up the majority of those employed in the civil service but are underrepresented at the most senior grades, where key policy and operational decisions are taken. Action 8 of the Civil Service Renewal Plan commits to improving gender balance at each level, including senior grades. The present study was commissioned by a high-level steering group set up to oversee implementation of this action. It draws on a combination of administrative data, reanalysis of the Civil Service Employee Engagement Survey conducted in 2015, and in-depth work history interviews with 50 senior civil servants across four departments. In addition, in-depth interviews were conducted with staff involved in recruitment and promotion within the public service. This rich combination of data yields new insights into the processes shaping gender differences in representation at the most senior grades of the civil service and thus provides a strong evidence base to inform future policy and practice.

Suggested Citation

  • Russell, Helen & Watson, Dorothy & McCoy, Selina & Grotti, Raffaele & Kenny, Oona, 2017. "A study of gender in senior civil service positions in Ireland," Research Series, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI), number RS66, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:esr:resser:rs66
    Note: Publisher: ESRI

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Marieke Brink & Yvonne Benschop, 2014. "Gender in Academic Networking: The Role of Gatekeepers in Professorial Recruitment," Journal of Management Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 51(3), pages 460-492, May.
    2. Helen Russell & Philip J. O'Connell & Frances McGinnity, 2007. "The Impact of Flexible Working Arrangements on Work-Life Conflict and Work Pressure in Ireland," Papers WP189, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI).
    3. McGinnity F & Russell H, 2011. "Workplace Equality in the Recession? The Incidence and Impact of Equality Policies and Flexible Working," Research Series, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI), number BKMNEXT200, December.
    4. Yoshio Higuchi & Jane Waldfogel & Masahiro Abe, 1999. "Family leave policies and women's retention after childbirth: Evidence from the United States, Britain, and Japan," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 12(4), pages 523-545.
    5. Russell, Helen & McGinnity, Fran & Kingston, Gillian, 2014. "Gender and the Quality of Work: From Boom to Recession," Research Series, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI), number BKMNEXT264, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. McGinnity, Frances & Grotti, Raffaele & Groarke, Sarah & Coughlan, Sarah, 2018. "Ethnicity and nationality in the Irish labour market," Research Series, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI), number BKMNEXT369, December.

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