A study that is three-year 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 features a gender that is severe with its workforce, despite some notable trailblazers in several prominent functions.
  • The sector is not acting swiftly sufficient to deal with the instability, with less ladies in crucial diplomatic and cleverness roles, policy-shaping tasks and senior jobs weighed against worldwide peers, the sector that is corporate the public sector all together.
  • This instability has to be addressed when it comes to sector to create its workforces more efficient and revolutionary, utilising the most 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 in charge of performing Australia’s worldwide relations — includes a gender that is severe with its workforce. The pace of change has been slow and uneven across the sector while there have been notable trailblazers. Some of the most significant diplomatic postings have actually ever been held by a lady. Females usually do not come in the sector’s key policy-shaping tasks. Considerably less women can be increasing to senior roles into the sector weighed against the Australian public sector as a whole, worldwide peers, additionally the sector that is corporate. The sex instability within the Australian Intelligence Community is very pronounced.

It is necessary when it comes to sector to handle this instability. An even more diverse workforce can not only better mirror Australian culture, but take advantage of the talent pool that is available. There clearly was significant proof from the personal sector that gender-balanced workforces tend to be more effective, efficient, and innovative. Before the sector better represents Australian culture it doesn’t utilize the most readily useful available skill to navigate Australia’s destination in a increasingly complex globe.


Australia’s worldwide relations sectorrelations that are international1 has a gender issue. If the focus is Australia’s diplomatic envoys, federal government divisions with worldwide functions, academia or think tanks, or the Australian Parliament, there was a acute shortage of senior ladies serving into the most significant and strategic functions either in Australia or abroad.

There were trailblazers into the sector, particularly in the last years that are few. At the beginning of 2019 in Australia, we now have a lady Foreign Minister, Senator Marise Payne; a brand new feminine defence Minister, Senator Linda Reynolds; Shadow Foreign Affairs Minister, Senator Penny Wong; and Secretary of this Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), Frances Adamson. In the past few years we’ve also seen A prime that is female ministerJulia Gillard) and Governor-General (Quentin Bryce), and also the country’s first female Foreign Minister (Julie Bishop) and Defence Minister (Senator Payne), and very very very first feminine Secretaries of general public solution departments. There has been two feminine ambassadors to Asia and Australia’s very very first feminine Defence cleverness agency manager.2 On these examples, it really is tempting to close out that the sector’s gender diversity challenges are mostly settled, which is correct that there is significant progress.

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

Female Minds of Mission

As an example, there has not 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 heads of objective are females.4 One-quarter for the influential Secretaries Committee on National protection are ladies, a rise from none in 2015/16 plus the greatest within the committee’s history.5 Simply over a 3rd of people in parliament are ladies.6 The sex instability regarding the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and safety can also be striking. Since its inception in 1998, the Committee has not been chaired with a feminine mp as well as for almost 1 / 2 of that point has received no feminine people at all, including as recently as 2015. Feminine account is currently 27 %, up from 18 % within the last parliament.parliament that is last7

Just four times of all time have females headed Australia’s internationally concentrated general public solution divisions and agencies.8 These are DFAT, Attorney-General’s Department, Department of Defence, Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP)/Department of Home Affairs,9 Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (PM&C), plus Treasury, the Australian Federal Police (AFP), and Austrade for the purposes of this study.10 Additionally included are the six major agencies associated with the Australian Intelligence Community (AIC),11 three of which sit in the Defence Department.12

You can find far less ladies in the senior handling of these organisations in comparison to the common throughout the Australian Public provider (APS).13 Just 14 per cent of minds of divisions and agencies within the scholarly research are ladies (2 in 14),14 contrasted with 50 % of Commonwealth federal federal government division heads overall15 and 31 % of most APS agency minds.16 Around 45 % for the senior administrator solution (SES) over the general general public solution are female,17 in comparison with just 33 % of this senior administrator associated with core internationally-facing departments and agencies in this research.18

Women can be under-represented within the AIC overall, specially at senior levels19 and across technical, operational, and roles that are analytical.20 While there is a noticable difference in senior female representation at some agencies within the AIC in the last couple of years (the Australian Security Intelligence organization (ASIO) is notable, with 42 % of females in its SES in 2018 weighed against 34 % couple of years earlier, as it may be the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD), with current efforts taking 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 certain agencies it offers declined in the last 5 years, dropping only 9 percent into the working office of National Assessments (ONA; now Office of National Intelligence) in 2016 and 24 percent averaged throughout the three cleverness agencies hot russian brides within Defence.22

Finally, women seldom function into the sector’s key activities that are policy-shaping. Through the study’s research on announced authorship, a lady is yet become chosen to guide on any major international policy, defence, intelligence, or trade white paper, inquiry or separate review.23

This three-year research of sex stability within the sector will be based upon a data-gathering that is comprehensive analysis procedure that has collected and brought together the very first time 2 full decades of information on gender representation throughout the sector. This can include general public solution work data from Australia’s 14 international-facing federal federal government divisions and agencies; an analysis for the sex 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 clearance information; overview of the sector’s gender and variety policies and social audits, and authorship of all of the major policy-setting workouts into the sector. The study had been supplemented with a considerable qualitative study of 646 participants (male and feminine) employed in the sector: “Gender Diversity and Australia’s Global Relations”; along with in-person interviews with around 50 professionals, minds of division, and senior leaders over 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 somewhat behind the remainder of Australia’s general public solution and also corporate Australia in handling workforce sex inequalities, especially during the senior administrator and leadership amounts.