There are some key gender differences in the public sector relating to the total number of men and women, the type of services they work in, their hours of work and the proportions at the lowest and high levels (see Table 1).

Table 1: Gender differences in the public sector

Table 1 shows gender differences from the NSW Workforce Profile 2014. The proportion of total employees is 37.6% men,  62.4% women; proportion working part-time is 9.2% men, 36.3% women; median salary per annum is $79,662 for men, $77,600 for women; proportion of salary in top 2 levels is 65.5% for men, 34.5% for women; proportion of salary in bottom 2 levels is 32.2% for men, 67.8% for women; length of service in agency is 9.1 median years for men, 8.8 median years for women; Services, highest proportions shows Transport, Trade and Justice for men, Family, Health and Education for women; Occupations, highest proportion shows 9 out of 10 fire officers are men and 9 out of 10 school and admin support are women.

The People Matter survey gauged employees' perceptions of gender equity. A majority (85%) believed the NSW public sector offers equal opportunities to both men and women. In total, 89% of respondents said gender is not a barrier to success – a similar outcome to that recorded in the 2012 survey. Overall, employees perceived women's capabilities and opportunities in a very positive light, with 93% of respondents believing women are able to lead as easily as men.

There are few differences in the perceptions of men and women (see Figure 7) except a noticeably lower proportion of women reported that senior managers genuinely support the career advancement of women.

Figure 7: Employee perceptions of gender differences

Figure 7 is a horizontal bar graph showing sector responses by gender to six questions about gender. 89% of both females and males agreed with 'gender is not a barrier to success in my organisation; 94% of females and 93% of males agreed with 'in my organisation women are able to lead just as effectively as men'; 86% of females and 87% of males agreed with 'women and men are given the same opportunities to take the lead on important work'; 77% of both females and males agreed with 'I have enough flexibility at work to handle my own family and caring responsibilities'; 80% of females and 81% of males agreed with 'I have a strong desire to advance my career' and 77% of females and  86% of males agreed with 'senior managers in my organisation genuinely support the career advancement of women.'

Snapshot – Diversity and inclusion

Transport for NSW

The Transport cluster is adopting a new approach to diversity that preserves the focus on existing diversity groups but also aims to shift attention away from legal compliance towards the key contribution that a diverse and inclusive workplace can contribute to business performance.

Transport's diversity and inclusion initiatives are embedded in each agency's business planning process and are directly aligned with, and help to achieve, key business outcomes such as better customer service, higher productivity and greater employee engagement. Importantly, these initiatives are led by business leaders and managers within agencies rather than by centralised corporate or human resource areas and can therefore incorporate unique cultures as well as readiness and capacity for change. Targets and progress are set and measured in realistic and practical ways that managers agree are important to their business.

This integrated approach impacts on all aspects of workforce planning and workplace culture and is aligned to the Global Diversity and Inclusion Benchmarks: Standards for Organisations Around the World, an international tool aiding organisations to determine strategy and measure progress in managing diversity and fostering inclusion.


However, the overall response can camouflage gender differences. While 86% of all respondents agreed that women and men are given the same opportunities to lead on important work, slightly more women than men agree with this statement in lower salary levels. At higher salary levels the response is reversed, with significantly more men supporting the statement (92% compared to 76% for women at very senior levels). This reflects gender differences in salary where women are in a majority at lower levels and men at higher levels.

Fewer women than men at all salary levels agree with the statement about senior managers supporting the career advancement of women, with the difference between men and women ranging from 2% at low salary levels to 9% at mid levels and 16% at senior levels.

The Agency survey shows that the main approaches to promoting gender equality rely on flexible work practices to assist return to work for those with caring responsibilities (99% of agencies report implementation) or employees who are returning after parental leave (93%). There is much less focus on active approaches to promoting gender equality such as succession planning (38%) and having a policy to address specific gender imbalances (19%).

In 2014, the Public Service Commissioner commissioned research about the low levels of participation by women at senior levels and this work is discussed further in Chapter 4.

The Public Service Commission acknowledges the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation, the traditional custodians of the land on which our office stands.