Long delay in report on women leads to distrust

17th December 1999 at 00:00
A REPORT into the glass ceiling for women teachers in Northern Ireland has been published - two years after its findings first emerged.

Unions have claimed the delay in publicly launching the Women In Teaching report speaks volumes about employers' commitment to equality. But employers say they have already acted on many of the report's recommendations, and put the delays down to administrative hitches.

The report confirms all the anecdotal evidence of lack of female progression in a profession they dominate.

Women represent 68 per cent of the teaching profession in Northern Ireland but remain under-represented in senior positions. At secondary level fewer than one in four heads are women - despite the fact that they outnumber men in the staffrooms.

Tom McKee, of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers, said: "The delay led to a certain amount of scepticism among unions as to whether employers were simply trying to bury the report," he said.

Helen McClenahan, chief executive of the Southern Education and Library Board, defended the province's five boards (equivalent to local education authorities) saying: "As the research was being compiled we were getting very clear messages, on which we were acting.

"We now have far more women as principals and vice-principals than we had in 1997 and we have taken great steps with governing boards and those who appoint to them to get more female representation."

But Mrs McClenahan said there was still a lot of work to be done on removing women's apprehensions. The report found that women did not necessarily apply for a job the first time it was advertised but waited to see if it was re-advertised.

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