3 Responses

  1. Garth Luke
    Garth Luke February 13, 2017 at 5:08 pm

    Yes, great post Terence. And I think Ashlee’s comments are also very relevant. Perhaps Devpol could do an annual review of the gender situation in NGO management to keep reminding people.

  2. Ashlee Betteridge
    Ashlee Betteridge February 13, 2017 at 8:34 am

    Great post Terence! I have a few other ideas of what could be part of the issue, obviously just anecdotal but I’d be interested what others think. One is that work-related travel – both domestic and international – is still often difficult for women with children, yet often needed to progress in this space and definitely needed in those leadership roles. Two could be burn-out – I have had several of my mid-career female friends leave the sector or go freelance/consultant because of the huge and unreasonable workloads expected of them in full-time positions in some NGOs – trying to balance that with family or other commitments sometimes becomes too much. It seems there is sometimes an idea that if you are willing to work in a not-for-profit, you are will to sacrifice pretty much everything for the cause, which is pretty problematic. Three, we should remember that DFAT still has issues getting women in leadership as well, and high-level public servants who have worked on aid would also be strong candidates for these NGO leadership roles. And four (like a recent study on the Aust public service highlighted), perhaps the more ‘sexy’ policy/advocacy/international program roles still tend to go to men, while women (anecdotally, obviously massively generalising) often seem to more predominantly work in areas such as communications, program admin, fundraising or as sector specialists in areas like health, education or gender — perhaps this kind of experience isn’t taken as seriously as that policy/advocacy experience when it comes to appointing NGO leaders? There also does seem to be a bit of a culture nowadays of bringing on outsiders – people from outside the development sector – for some of these leadership roles, so that could be another factor.

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