This study takes a strategic human resource management approach to examining the organisational barriers for women in the New Zealand public sector. While 42 percent of senior managers in the public sector are women, only four percent of Chief Executives were female at the time of the study, suggesting a "leaking pipeline" phenomenon is taking place. The paper provides a summary of research into the barriers women face towards their career progression, with particular reference to a wealth of New Zealand research.
A series of interviews were conducted with human resource leaders to gather their perspectives. Evidence was found of male-dominated networks, unconscious bias in recruitment and promotion, and leadership and gender stereotypes. Many had expectations of long hours and voluntary overtime for progression to senior roles. The majority of respondents reported no sexism in their workplaces, but there were few specific measures in place to identify this, and some overt cases were described.
The author finds that there is an overall lack of gender diversity initiatives or measures in place, as well as a lack of awareness or prioritisation of the issue. Recommendations are made towards audits of HR policy, awareness-raising within the sector, and more global, system-level interventions.