Only 2.8% of decision-making roles occupied by women

A two-year study into gender balances in decision-making came to an end today, revealing low figures of female participation in high ranking positions

NCPE chairperson Renee Laiviera
NCPE chairperson Renee Laiviera

The total representation of women in decision making positions stands at a paltry 2.8%, compared to the almost 60% female majority of students graduating from university locally, research by the NCPE has revealed. 

Speaking at a conference concluding an EU co-funded project on gender balancing in decision making, NCPE chairperson Renee Laiviera explained that the study was carried out over the past two years.

“We need to understand why the gap remains so much against women, despite figures showing that more women graduate from University and we need to identify ways to address this issue,” she said, adding that women had by far outnumbered their male counterparts at university since as far back as 1991.

Laiviera also explained that over 200 women are registered on the directory of professional women developed by the commission.

Inviting other women to join the directory, Laiviera said it would help to give those in managerial positions the necessary knowledge about female experts and how to contact them.

She added that the study had identified that female representation at parliament was locally at 13%, compared to 66% of MEPs. 

“The study,” according to her, “showed that many still considered caring responsibilities to be a female prerogative,”. 

She added that this resulted in women not spending long hours at work. 

“Although both men and women have these responsibilities, society still expects women to take on the bulk of these responsibilities,” she said. 

NCPE senior projects executive Annalise Frantz explained that the two-year research programme began in March 2013, ending today.

“It consisted of research, mentoring programmes, awareness campaigns as well as the creation of a database of professional women in various sectors,” Franz said.

She added that the mentoring programme placed 30 mentors with 30 mentees as of November 2015. 

Frantz further explained that the campaigns had made use of newspapers and business publications as well as Facebook adverts to alert women both of the mentoring programmes and of the creation of the database. 

Representing Equinox Advisory ltd, Ian Pisani explained that the research component had been divided in two; one focused on gender-based representation in boardrooms and political decision making positions on the Maltese islands and another on gender quotas. 

Pisani explained that a survey was carried out among NGOs and trade unions, parliamentary groups and the general public, and public and private companies, among others. 

“Results of the survey showed that the prime reasons for women missing out on decision making positions was due to the mindset that women were solely responsible for domestic spheres, lack of flexibility in certain environments, as well as organisations not understanding the needs of working mothers or the necessary child care alternatives."

Pusani also explained that shockingly, only four of 33 respondents within the political and parliamentary spheres were female. 

The consultancy also made a number of policy recommendations, including parental leave to allow couples to choose between maternity or paternity leave, and added that an equal gender representation in parliament representation was also necessary. 

During the discussion, some mentioned that the provision of support for mothers at university could help to allow women to have children at a younger age and then focus more closely on the job market once they graduate.

Laiveira added that another way to do this was to ensure that women and men got equal pay. 

“Very often, in raising a family a couple decides to do away with the lower pay of the couple so if women are paid less, regardless of their position, it will never be economically viable for women to stay in the job market and rise up the ladder.”

Pisani added that the next challenge was that some businesses did not consider female presence as essential to management. 

Speaking about the second part of the research, Pisani said that findings revealed that measures like gender mainstreaming and corporate governance codes were not effective enough in creating an improvement in female representation. 

“The study shows that if a measure is not introduced that will provide immediate results then the country’s investment in female educational will be useless.” 

One proposal brought forward was a quota for female representation on boards, beginning with the government itself to set an example.

“This measure proved effective. In northern countries like Norway,” he said, adding that a voluntary measure would not be enough given that in Malta representation was so low.