The Ulster Unionist Party has called for action to be taken to promote equality for women in the Senior Civil Service terms of employment opportunities.
Speaking during a Stormont debate on a motion tabled by the Ulster Unionists, Mr McGimpsey said:
“In Northern Ireland we have 11 Government Departments, with 11 permanent secretaries running them. There is not one woman among that group.
“We must bear it in mind that the Sex Discrimination Order goes way back to 1976. We have seen a number of measures, not least the 2010 gender equality strategy for Northern Ireland. We have measures that should mitigate the situation.
“When we formed the first Executive in November 1999, I was the Minister appointed to the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure, which was the smallest and newest Department. With me, setting up that Department, was Dr Aideen McGinley, who was the first female to head a Department as a permanent secretary and she did an excellent job.
“That was 14 years ago. Since then, only one other woman has been appointed permanent secretary. Today we haven’t a single one and our commitment to equality looks like hypocrisy.
“Other senior grades are little better. That is an indictment of us all and we must change this disgraceful situation as a matter of urgency.”
Ulster Unionist Economy spokesperson Sandra Overend said;
“The situation is simply not right, fair or acceptable. The Senior Civil Service should reflect the society that it serves, and we should work to build a society that does not tolerate discrimination against any group or individual on any grounds.
“We are less concerned with the type of strategy or action plan that we support than we are with achieving the results that we need. Looking at the grade 3 statistics, I see that, going back to 2006, there were 12 women at grade 3. Looking at the 2014 figure, I see that it seems to have gone down to nine. Therefore, on the basis of the grade 3 figures, we are going backwards rather than forwards.
“When women are involved in businesses from the bottom to the top, those businesses generally benefit. It is essential that all career sectors be the best that they can be. That means ensuring that they contain the best and the most talented. If our best women are not included, those areas of employment will not fulfill the potential that they would have if more women were involved.”