Canada has most women in top public sector jobs, EY finds

21 Jan 16

Canada has the highest proportion of women among its senior central government officials of all the G20 countries, followed by Australia, South Africa, the UK and Brazil, according to research from global advisory firm EY.


Across the G20’s public sector, women make up 50% of the overall workforce, with that ranging from 32%-62% for individual countries. But in no G20 country do women hold 50% of senior public sector roles. Canada was found to come the closest, with 46.1% of its public sector leaders being women.

The report noted that Canada “has a long history of positive action on promoting under-represented groups”, with voluntary affirmative action programmes in both the public and private sectors. These were given legislative force in the public sector in the 1990s.

Australia is second in line, with 40.1% and followed closely by South Africa, the UK, Brazil and the US, with 39.8%, 38.7%, 35.4% and 34% respectively.

Of the members of the European Union in the G20, the report found the UK to rank first, with the highest proportion of women in senior civil service positions in Europe. While a leader in the G20, however, the report noted gender equality varies widely across different parts of the UK public sector.

Among EU nations, the UK is followed by Italy, which holds a tied second place within the EU with the European Commission. Women have a 32% share of leading public sector roles in both. In the G20 as a whole, Italy comes eighth.

Within the EU, France and Germany are lagging far behind in twelfth and thirteenth place, with 28% and 21% of women in senior roles respectively.

However the report noted that in 2015 Germany, along with Italy, saw leading growth in the share of women in senior public sector roles, at 4%. This was beaten only by the European Commission, which saw 4.5% growth. 

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