Breaking through the glass ceiling

Women achieve equal representation on public boards


For the first time, women now account for half of all board members appointed to public bodies across Scotland.

Of the 680 appointments to boards with regulated ministerial appointments, 341 are now women.

A total of 89 boards are included in this data and women make up 50% or more of the membership on 57 of them.

The Gender Representation on Public Boards (Scotland) Act 2018 set a statutory objective for equal representation of women on public sector non-executive board members by 2022 - and the Scottish Government is continuing work to ensure that target is met on each board. Scotland is the only country in the UK with this objective.
The law applies to health boards, enterprise agencies, the Scottish Police Authority and the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service as well as colleges and universities.

The Scottish Government has launched a consultation on the regulations and guidance for the Gender Representation on Public Boards Act with a deadline of 4 August 2019.

Equalities Minister Christina McKelvie said:

“We are shattering the so-called glass ceiling. It is encouraging to see these figures but it is important that we continue to encourage women to apply for these positions.

“This progress has been achieved through the shared ambition and action of all of those involved and our Act will ensure that progress doesn’t slip back.
“Scotland’s public bodies, colleges and universities are responsible for significant expenditure and decisions on public services we all use. It’s therefore vital their boards reflect society and that women’s voices are heard.

“There is further to go to make sure each board has equal representation and that more of our boards are chaired by women, but achieving 50% across all appointments is a significant first step.

“We want as many organisations and individuals as possible who will be using the legislation’s guidance and reporting process to respond to the consultation, so that we can make sure it will work for everyone.”

The Act sets an objective for public boards that 50% of non-executive members are women by the end of 2022. It also requires action to encourage women to apply to become non-executive members of public boards.




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