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Australia’s intelligence community needs another independent review

By Danielle Cave

On 9 March 2020 ASPI’s Danielle Cave co-authored an article with The Lowy Institute’s Alex Oliver focused on why women remain under-represented in senior and strategic roles in Australia’s intelligence community:

“The quality of the community’s output is dependent on the thousands of staff who manage an increasingly complex mix of operational, technical, and analytical work. Many of them work in high-pressure environments and are responsible for delivering the fruits of that work to the government, and to parliament.

A lack of independent and in-depth investigation over many decades has allowed a community to evolve in which women have not risen to the top at nearly the same rate as their male counterparts, which has produced a culture far less diverse than Australian society itself...

...The gap is most startling because, when you interrogate the data as we did for our 2019 report Foreign Territory: Women in International Relations, you can see it clearly. Our report found that Australia’s intelligence agencies, collectively, have the lowest proportions of women in leadership among the study sample, with female representation in the senior executive service across the community far lower than in the public service generally. Some agencies had actually suffered periodic declines in senior female representation.

We also discovered that there were fewer women in key senior intelligence roles, running operational, analytical, and technical divisions, posted in senior roles overseas and leading policy-shaping activities (such as reviews).”

Read the full article at the Lowy Interpreter here.