4125.0 - Gender Indicators, Australia, Sep 2018  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 25/09/2018   
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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 are available from the Downloads tab of this publication (see Data Cube 13. Democracy, Governance and Citizenship).


Leadership roles

While women are participating more in education, particularly tertiary education, they are under-represented on boards, as CEO's, ministers and parliamentarians, judges and justices. The Australian Human Rights Commission notes that 'we need diverse groups of women in leadership to influence decision making. And we need women to have more of a say in our government, communities and organisations, at all levels'.1

Non-public sector

Overall the proportion of women in non-public sector leadership roles is rising. The proportion of female CEO's increased from 16% to 17% between 2013–14 and 2016–17. There was also growth in the proportion of women in key management personnel (KMP) positions, from 26% in 2013–14 to 30% in 2016–17 (see Table 13.1). The Public Administration and Safety industry, the Rental, Hiring and Real Estate Services industry, and the Wholesale Trade industry had the largest relative increases in the proportion of women in KMP positions (a 6 percentage points increase for each of these industries between 2013–14 and 2016–17). (See Table 13.2)


In January 2018, women made up 29% of federal parliamentarians in the House of Representatives, an increase of 2 percentage points since January 2016. The proportion of women in the Senate was 39%, which has not substantially changed since 2012. On average, the proportion of women has been consistently higher in the Senate than in the House of Representatives over the last decade, at 38% compared with 26% (see Figure 1 below). One in five (20%) federal government ministers and almost a quarter (22%) of federal government cabinet ministers were women at January 2018 (see Table 13.3).

Graph Image for Figure 1 - Federal Parliamentarians (House of Representatives and Senate), by sex, 2008 to 2018 (a)

Footnote(s): (a) Reference period is as at 1 January in each year. These figures are calculated according to the current number of parliamentarians, and do not include vacant seats.

Source(s): Australian Parliamentary Library

In January 2018, 34% of state/territory parliamentarians and 36% of state/territory government ministers were women. The proportion of female state/territory parliamentarians has been fairly stable over the last decade, while the proportion of female state/territory government ministers has been on the rise in the last few years (from 24% in 2015). (See Table 13.4)

Public Sector

The proportion of female senior and middle managers in the Australian Public Service has been increasing over the past decade. In 2017, 43% of senior executive service managers were women, up from 35% in 2007, while almost half (49%) of executive level staff were women, up from 43% in 2007 (see Table 13.6).

Justices and Judges

In 2018 there were 56 female and 100 male Commonwealth Justices and Judges. Male Federal Court Justices/Judges outnumber female Justices/Judges by three to one (75% compared with 25%), however the proportion of High Court Justices was much closer to parity (57% male and 43% female).

In the State Supreme Court and Court of Appeal in 2018, there were 42 female and 132 male Justices/Judges (24% and 76% respectively). (See Table 13.7)

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 2018, 33% of all nominees for the Order of Australia (General Division) were women. Between 2008 and 2018, three in every ten nominees in this division were women, on average (see Table 13.8). Although more men received nominations, women were more likely to receive an order if they had been nominated: 78% of female nominees received an order compared with 69% of male nominees (see Table 13.10).

Of the 56 Order of Australia (Military Division) awards in 2018, 13% were received by women. Between 2008 and 2018, the ratio of total female to male recipients for the Military Division was roughly 1:13. There were no female recipients of the Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) (Military Division) in 2018 (see Table 13.9).

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 2008 and 2018, roughly half of all the awards nominated and subsequently granted were for services to the community. While nominations for men outnumbered those for women (see Figure 2 below), women were more likely to receive an award if they were nominated.

In 2018, 79% of female nominees and 66% of male nominees in the community category received an award. Overall, 41% of Order of Australia Awards in the Community category were received by women (see Table 13.10).

Graph Image for Figure 2 - Order of Australia nominations and awards, Community category, by sex, 2008 to 2018 (a)(b)

Footnote(s): (a) Nominations considered by the Council for the Order of Australia. (b) Includes all levels of the award, that is, Companion of the Order (AC), Officer of the Order (AO), Member of the Order (AM), and Medal of the Order (OAM).

Source(s): Australian Parliamentary Library

Participation in civic, political or community groups

In 2014, 13% of women and 14% of men aged 18 years and over 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 2010, from 18% and 20% respectively.

Women were more likely than men to be involved in community support groups (37% and 28% respectively). Nearly half (48%) of women aged 35–44 were involved in these kinds of groups, higher than any other age group of males or females. Over a quarter of people still participated in community support groups in their older years, with 32% of women and 26% of men aged 75 or over being involved.

Overall, people are more likely to be involved in community support groups (33%) than civic or political groups (14%). (See Table 13.11)

1. Australian Human Rights Commission A conversation in gender equality, March 2017.