Media Release by Senator the Hon Kay Patterson

New national strategy to increase the participation of women on boards

The Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Status of Women, Senator Kay Patterson, today announced a new national strategy to increase the participation of women on boards. State and Territory Ministers agreed to the strategy at the Australian and New Zealand Ministers’ Conference on the Status of Women in Adelaide today.

‘The Howard Government is committed to increasing the number of women on boards Over the next year a working party will develop a comprehensive national strategy to increase the number of women on boards. The working party will report to the next Ministers meeting in 2005,’ said Senator Patterson.

‘The strategy will focus on improving skills and mentoring, increasing opportunities and providing the support needed by women to access these opportunities.’

Figures show that women make up 33.6% all existing Australian Government appointments, representing an increase of 5% in women’s participation on Australian Government boards and bodies since 1996.

‘The new national strategy will help bring together all the work being done in this area, to continue to increase the number of women on boards in Australia,’ Senator Patterson said.

‘Women must be given the opportunity to participate actively in all spheres of public life and there is clear evidence that companies with women board members, generally have better financial results.’

The 2003 Australian Census of Women Board Directors completed by the Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Agency, reported that women held just 8.4% of board directorships and 47.3% of companies had no women on their boards.

‘The Howard Government’s APPOINTWomen strategy has already provided increased opportunities for Australian women and continues to grow,’ Senator Patterson said.

APPOINTWomen is a database that currently contains the resumes of over 870 women, who have registered as wishing to be considered for appointment to Australian Government boards and bodies. Government agencies are able to request a free search for potential candidates for upcoming board vacancies from APPOINTWomen. In additon the Howard Government has provided $50,000 funding for the Women On Boards Goes National campaign, to align potential women board members with heads of companies.

‘The agreement will help focus more resources on this important initiative so we can continue to increase the number of women on boards,’ Senator Patterson said.