The rise of women CEOs in Australia’s aid NGOs

By Terence Wood and Sherman Surandiran

In 1995, when Suzette Mitchell studied the gender composition of senior staff in Australian aid NGOs, she found that 67 per cent of organisations had men as executive directors.* Nineteen years later, matters had improved – 60 per cent of CEOs were men. But nearly two decades had passed, and the improvement was only 7 percentage points. Progress was underwhelming.

The news is different now though. Thanks to the data gathering efforts of the Australian Council for International Development (ACFID), and the transparency of its member organisations, we have built a dataset of aid NGOs’ leaders’ gender spanning the last five years. The chart below shows the share of ACFID members with women at the helm. (We did our best to fill in missing data in the ACFID dataset, but the data still aren’t wholly comprehensive. In all the charts and numbers in this blog, we only draw on NGOs with five full years of data so as to avoid trends artificially emerging because different NGOs have been counted in different years. With one exception which we note below, expanding analysis to include all ACFID members does not change findings significantly.)

Share of ACFID members with female CEOs

The share of NGOs led by a woman has risen by 12 percentage points in just five years. For the first time ever, there are now more women leading ACFID member organisations than men. This still isn’t representative of the gender composition of ACFID members’ staff more broadly – about 70 per cent of staff in these organisations are women – but it is considerably closer than it was just a few years ago. Although the data aren’t perfectly comparable, on the basis of the numbers presented in Kate Sutton and Pip Henty’s recent blog, it also appears that ACFID members are more likely …read more

From:: Development Policy Centre – DEVPOLICY Blog

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