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Equal Opportunities

Volume 447: debated on Tuesday 13 June 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what steps are being taken to ensure that women are more equally represented in the civil service in Northern Ireland. (76322)

Significant progress has been made in ensuring that women are properly represented, particularly at senior grades, in the Northern Ireland civil service, and this has been reflected in changing compositional figures.

Before advertising a vacancy in the civil service, an assessment is made of the gender balance and where this shows women to be under-represented a statement welcoming applications from women is included in the advertisement. In the period January 2005 to May 2006, welcoming statements were included in 125 advertisements.

The civil service is anxious to make further progress to increase the diversity of the work force in order to make it more reflective of the community it serves. To this end an outreach programme is being devised and in relation to gender an emphasis will be on encouraging more women into occupations that traditionally have been carried out by men.