State of the service

Representation of women in the APS

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The Commonwealth of Australia was established on 1 January 1901. The Australian Public Service was created on that day.

  • “APS parity for women at the EL 1 level in 2015”

Although women were employed in the APS from the beginning they were generally few in number and working at lower levels. Their conditions and rights were not equal to those of men.

But over time things improved

  • 1949: Competitive examinations that lead to permanency opened.
  • 1966: The marriage bar was lifted.
  • 1972: Equal pay for women. Until then, it was generally 75% of a man’s wage.
  • 1973: Paid maternity leave was introduced.
  • 1986: Permanent part-time work became available.

As a result the number of women and their representation classifications in the APS has grown.

Figure 2.Change in representation of women by classification, 1996 to 2015

Paper icon representing the learn more page Learn more: view the full video on the Australian Public Service Commission YouTube Channel.

Figure 1 is a video depiction showing the representation of women in the APS on a timeline from 1965 to 2015. Women reached equal representation of an APS classification in the following order: 1972 APS 1, 1986 APS 2, 1991 APS 3, 1992 APS 4, 1999 half of all APS are women, 2003 APS 5, 2005 APS 6, 2015 EL 1.

Women have now reached parity at all levels from APS 1 to EL 1.
There has also been a change in women’s representation at all classifications over the past twenty years.

Change in representation of women by classification, 1996 to 2015

Paper icon representing the learn more page Learn more: view the full video on the Australian Public Service Commission YouTube Channel.

Figure 2 is a video depiction showing the change in APS representation of women by classification level from 1996 to 2015. The timeline graph shows that women’s representation levels from Trainee to APS 2 tended to fluctuate, whilst representation levels from APS 3 to SES Band 3 tended to progress upward in gradual increments. APS classifications are listed with 1996 percentages followed by 2015 percentages: Trainee was 45% now 49%, Graduate was 57% now 48%, APS 1 was 52% now 54%, APS 2 was 58% now 65%, APS 3 was 60% now 66%, APS 4 was 57% now 69%, APS 5 was 45% now 59%, APS 6 was 39% now 56%, EL 1 was 31% now 50%, EL 2 was 22% now 43%, SES Band 1 was 22% now 42%, SES Band 2 was 13% now 37%, SES Band 3 was 7% now 39%.

Since 1996, women’s representation has almost doubled at EL2 and SES Band 1, tripled at SES Band 2. SES Band 3 representation has increased five-fold.

Twenty years ago women made up 19% of ongoing SES employees. By 2015 their representation had grown to 41%.

The APS Statistical Bulletin 2014–15 contains further information on the profile of the APS over time.

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Read the State of the Service Report 2014–15 on the APSC website.


2 Comments

  1. Tanya

    I would like to know how women are represented at each level, as was available in earlier reports. Its all very nice to say that representation has doubled at a certain level, but what does that really mean? We are still below parity at the EL2 level and above, so it would be nice to see the actually figures.