Edwards, M., Burmester, W., Evans, M., Halupka, M. & May, D.
Canberra: ANZSOG Institute for Governance
Area of focus: 

A paper examining beliefs and biases in the Australian Public Service (APS). Current statistics are presented in gender representation across Australian departments, as is a thorough review of recent literature on unconscious biases in workplaces, including two recent case studies from the APS. Three propositions were empirically tested in a survey of male and female APS staff: that competing priorities (work versus family) hinder women from opting for leadership roles; that negative male perceptions of women's ability to lead impede their progress; and that structures and cultures within the APS hamper women's progress by institutionalising policies and processes which give men an advantage, thus weakening women's confidence. Ten statements on barriers facing women were provided to male and female respondents, at different role levels and within male-centric and non-male organisations. Respondents were also asked to place their own organisation on a continuum from "exclusive" to "inclusive". Results are tabulated and discussed, and narrative statements on the different bias propositions from both genders are provided as illustrations.

The report provides 16 key findings, including that men see "competing priorities" due to family as women's main barrier, that men are more likely to promote themselves to others, and that many women feel excluded from networks leading to advancement. The conclusion presents "pathways" that organisations can follow towards inclusive leadership, and recommends committed support from male leadership through four combined categories of actions.