4125.0 - Gender Indicators, Australia, Sep 2017  
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 19/09/2017   
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The Democracy, Governance and Citizenship section contains the following sub-topics:
    • Leadership roles (leadership in the non-public sector, parliamentarians, membership of boards and governing bodies, public sector, justices and judges)
    • Recognition of outstanding achievement and service (Order of Australia awards)
    • Participation in civic, community or social groups

Detailed data for these sub-topics is available from the Downloads tab, above (see Table 13).


Leadership roles

While women are participating more in education, particularly tertiary education, they are under-represented on boards, as CEOs, ministers and parliamentarians, judges and justices. The Australian Human Rights Commission notes that 'the number of women in leadership positions in the public and private sector is not representative of women’s interest or ability', and that 'there is a strong correlation between the gender gap and national competitiveness, with this competitiveness depending significantly on whether and how it educates and utilises its female talent'.1

Non-public sector

In 2015-16, the proportion of female CEOs in non-public sector organisations with 100 or more staff rose slightly to 16% (from 15% in 2014-15). The proportion of women who were key management personnel also increased from 27% to 29% over the same time (see Table 13.1).


In January 2017, women made up 29% of federal parliamentarians in the House of Representatives, an increase of 2% since January 2016. The proportion of women in the Senate dropped to 33%, which is the lowest proportion over the last decade. On average, the proportion of women was consistently higher in the Senate than in the House of Representatives over the last decade, at 37% compared with 26% (see Figure 1 below). Just over one in four federal government cabinet ministers were women (26%). See Table 13.3 via the Downloads tab for more detail.

Graph Image for Figure 1 - Federal Parliamentarians (House of Representatives and Senate), by sex, 2007 to 2016

In January 2017, 33% of state/territory parliamentarians and 35% of state/territory government ministers were women. While the proportion of female state territory parliamentarians has not changed very much over the past decade, the proportion of female state and territory government ministers rose by 25% over that time, from 28% in January 2007. (see Table 13.4).

Public Sector

The proportion of female senior and middle managers in the Australian Public Service has been steadily increasing over the past decade. In 2016, 43% of senior executive service managers were women, up from 35% in 2006, while almost half (49%) of executive level staff were women, up from 41% in 2006 (see Table 13.6).

Judges and Justices

In 2017 there were 53 female and 95 male Commonwealth judges and justices. Male Federal Court Justices/Judges outnumber female Justices/Judges by three to one (76% compared with 24%), however proportions of High Court Justices are much closer to parity (57% and 43% respectively).

In the State Supreme Court/Court of Appeal in 2017, there were 131 male and 42 female Justices/Judges (76% and 24% respectively). See Table 13.7 for more detail.

Recognition of outstanding achievement and service

Order of Australia: nominations and awards

The Order of Australia in both the General Division and Military Division have four award levels - the Companion (AC), Officer (AO), Member (AM) and Medal (OAM) of the Order.

In 2017, 31% of all nominations for the Order of Australia (General Division) were for women. Between 2007 and 2017, the average number of nominations for women in this division was 29% (see Table 13.8). Although more men received nominations, women were slightly more likely to receive an order if they had been nominated: 76% of female nominees compared with 70% of male nominees (see Table 13.10).

Of the 51 Order of Australia (Military Division) awards in 2017, only 8% were received by women. At June 2016, women represented 19% of the air force and the navy (just under one in five people), and 12% of the army (just over one in ten people). Between 2007 and 2017, the ratio of female to male recipients for the Military Division was roughly 1:15 (see Table 13.9). Unlike 2016, there were no female recipients of the Companion and Officer of the Order of Australia (AC/ AO) (Military Division) in 2017. See Table 13.9 in the Downloads tab for more detail.

Order of Australia: Community Category

The Community category generally receives the most nominations and generates the most Order of Australia (General Division) awards of any of the 31 categories. Between 2007 and 2017, roughly half of all the awards nominated and subsequently granted were for services to the community. While nominations for men generally outnumbered those for women at a ratio of 2:1 (see Figure 2 below), women were more likely to receive an award if they were nominated (an average of 67% compared with 57% of male nominees over that time).

In 2017, 74% of female nominees and 65% of male nominees in the community category received an award. Overall, 38% of Order of Australia Awards in the Community category were received by women. See Table 13.10 via the Downloads tab for more detail.

Graph Image for Figure 2 - Order of Australia nominations and awards, Community category, by sex, 2007 to 2017

Participation in civic, political or community groups

In 2014, around 14% of Australian men and 13% of Australian women were involved in civic or political groups, such as unions, political parties, owner's corporations and tenants associations, and civil rights groups. Proportions of people in these groups had gone down since 2006, from 21% and 17% respectively.

People in their middle years were more likely than young people to be involved in these types of groups: around 17% of men and 18% of women aged 45-54 compared with 6% of young men and 5% of young women aged 18-24 years. Young people were more likely to participate in community support groups (such as parenting, education, welfare and emergency services groups) than civic or political groups (23% of young men and 33% of young women). Over one in four people aged 75 years and over participated in community support groups (27% of men and 32% of women this age).

Overall, women were more likely than men to be involved in community groups (37% compared with 28%). This was particularly the case for women aged 35-44, with almost half of them reporting active participation in community groups (48%). See Table 13.11 for more detail.

1. Australian Human Rights Commission 2010 Gender Equality Blueprint, June 2010.