Frances Adamson was yesterday named by Malcolm Turnbull as our first female secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
The move makes Adamson one of the country’s most powerful public servants.
Adamson, a former Australian ambassador to China, has been advising Turnbull on international relations since he became leader of the Liberal party and PM last year. She’s also served as a chief of staff to Stephen Smith, who was foreign affairs minister during the Gillard/Rudd Government. She has held positions all over the world, including in Hong Kong, Taipei and London.
With Adamson’s appointment, we now have a record-breaking seven female department heads, welcome news given the number of women elected to our governing party has just gone backwards.
Women make up just over a third of diplomatic posts, despite accounting for more than 50% of DFAT’s full workforce. The department launched a Women in Leadership strategy in November last year to help, with managers undergoing unconscious bias training along with a flexible work trial. It set a goal of having females in 43% of senior executive band one positions by 2020, up from 36%.
Adamson replaces former Secretary Peter Varghese, and begins her five-year term tomorrow (Friday).