Women on Boards co-founder and Executive Chair, Ruth Medd (pictured above, second from left with - from left-Marguerite Evans-Galea, Melanie Brock and Dr Deborah Cockrell) said that while the improvement on the participation of women in the Australia Day Honours was very welcome, it would be good to see the 47% evenly distributed across the categories.
A record 47 per cent of the 732 General Division awardees on Australia Day were women. In the 185 awards in the prestigious AC, AO and AM divisions, there were 80 women honoured (43%) compared with 105 (57%) men.
"It would be good to see more women recognised with the top awards," Ms Medd said, "as this would send a clear message that the service of men and women is judged equally.
She said it was encouraging that Governor General David Hurley sees the need to increase the number of women receiving honours.
"Thanks to campaigners and community organisations like Honour a Woman and the Workplace Gender Equality Agency there has been a steady improvement over the last five years in the number of women recognised overall (from 33 per cent in 2016-17 to 41 per cent in 2020-21)."
WOB member, Dr Deborah Cockrell from the NSW Central Coast and WOB Next Generation of Leaders participant Melanie Brock were named Members (AM) in the General Division for services to dentistry and significant service to Australia-Japan relations respectively.
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Win for science, but more to do
This year scientists also made up five of the seven people appointed Companions of the Order of Australia.
Women on Boards member, cofounder of Women in STEMM Australia and Ambassador for Honour A Woman, Marguerite Evans-Galea AM said while it was “tremendous” to see more STEMM experts receive well-deserved accolades there was still more to do to address the gender imbalance in the highest category.
“We need to ensure the outstanding women leaders in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, health and medicine (STEMM) who go above and beyond – in every professional sector – get nominated and recognised. There are many women in STEMM deserving of an Australian Honour,” said Ms Evans-Galea.
She called for closer examination of the selection process to ensure an inclusive approach and “intersectional lens” is applied throughout.
“Women from underrepresented identity groups must be recognised. A diverse range of voices is needed to brain-storm the best ideas, have robust debate, and devise effective solutions. And we need to recognise those voices.”
Ms Evans-Galea paid tribute to the Honour A Woman campaign for “raising awareness and proposing impactful recommendations that could see more women leaders recognised with an Australian Honour. This volunteer-run campaign became a movement and it’s excellent to see the momentum continue.”