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WOMEN SHUNNED IN WELSH UNITARY POSTS

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Only nine of 193 director jobs in Welsh unitaries have been awarded to women, it emerged this week. ...
Only nine of 193 director jobs in Welsh unitaries have been awarded to women, it emerged this week.

The Equal Opportunities Commission wrote immediately to the Welsh Staff Commission expressing its disappointment that unitaries had failed to prioritise the appointment of equal opportunities officers.

'We've asked the Staff Commission to take up with councils the importance of appointing someone with this expertise,' said EOC Wales director Val Feld. 'Without it, there is obviously more risk of discrimination.'

The commission is investigating around seven complaints regarding sexual discrimination in appointments to the 22 new Welsh councils.

'It is likely that there are more coming through the system now,' Ms Feld added.

The Local Government Management Board in Wales has also written to councils offering an in-house seminar for members on equal opportunities law and practice.

Anne Abel, assistant director for training and development at the LGMB in Wales, said there was an urgent need for more information, such as the percentage of women at the higher principal officer grades and as assistant directors.

LGMB figures suggest that in 1995 there were 519 male chief officers in Wales and 25 female. 'The percentage of women directors has probably not changed with the transfer to unitaries,' Ms Feld said. 'But it is disappointing. We might have for an increase in the share going to women.'

However, for the first time in Welsh local government, two women have taken chief executive positions - Vivienne Sugar at Cardiff County Council and Joyce Redfearn at Monmouthshire Council.

At the same time the principality has lost its two female council leaders.

John Lloyd, head of local government for Unison Wales, said the figures were evidence of the bad practices of the past.

'One of the biggest challenges facing local government is to make sure that they create a climate allowing all people to feel they can participate and climb the ladder,' he said.

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