Gender balance to be improved

New legislation that aims to ensure an equal gender balance on many public sector boards has been passed by the Scottish Parliament.

Women make up just over 50% of the Scottish population, but currently make up only 45% of public board membership.

The new law sets an objective for at least 50% of non-executive members on all boards to be women by 2022.

The legislation was passed by 88 votes to 28, with the Scottish Conservatives voting against.

It will apply to colleges, universities and some public bodies including health boards, enterprise agencies, the Scottish Police Authority and the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service.

Under the new rules, where a minister is faced with two or more equally qualified candidates for a public board position, they will be required to give preference to female candidates as a “tie-breaker”.  Ministers and public bodies will also be required to take steps to encourage women to apply for non-executive positions, and public authorities will be required to publish reports on progress towards achieving gender balance.

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Image credit: dun_deagh, CC BY-SA 2.0