Forty one per cent of the Queens Birthday Honours have gone to women this year, marking an improvement on previous years but showing we still have a way to go for gender equality.
Two of the three highest honours went to women, with Belinda Hutchinson and Naomi Milgrom both named a Companion of the Order of Australia (AC). The third went to Tony Abbott, noting his contribution as a prime minister, including for “Indigenous service” and “border control”.
But while women dominated in this group receiving the highest orders, just 13 women compared with 37 men were named in the next levels of honours. That means just 28 per cent of the gongs in the two highest categories went to women.
And the proportion of women celebrated overall was down compared to the Australia Day honours announced earlier this year.
Professor Marcia Langton (pictured above) was named an officer of the Order of Australia, for distinguished service to tertiary education, and as an advocate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
She was joined on the list by CSIRO Chief Physicist Dr Catherine Foley, who was also named the 2019 Women’s Agenda Agenda Setter of the Year.
Other women named in the officers’ division included politician Bronwyn Bishop, businesswoman Christine Christian, biomedical researcher Suzanne Crowe, business leaders Denise Goldsworthy and Diane Grady, dance leader Lucy Guerin, medical researcher Georgina Long, medical researcher Isabella McMillen, arts advocate Greta Moran, actor Robyn Nevin, screenwriter and director Jan Sardi and cancer researcher Ingrid Winship.
Ming Long was named in the AM division, and told the ABC she “hopes it’s a reminder for all women of colour coming through that they are capable of great things, for all people of colour.”
She was joined by Annette Kimmitt, CEO of Mintor Ellison, who was recognised ’for significant service to business and to gender equality and inclusion’.
They were two of the 15 women honoured in the “business and commerce” category, compared with 23 men.
All up women received 290 of the awards handed out.
Belinda Hutchinson was named for her “eminent service to business, to tertiary education and scientific research, and through philanthropic endeavours to address social disadvantage”
Naomi Milgrom was named “For eminent service to the community through philanthropic leadership and support for the promotion of the arts, architecture, design excellence and cultural exchange, and to business”.
Honour A Woman has used the gender imbalance to again push for women to be nominated
They noted that there were ZERO women recognised in the “public service (federal) category, despite women making up 59 per cent of the Australian Public Service.
And there were zero women recognised again in the category of “local government”.
Honour A Woman has urged premiers and chief ministers to “embed processes in the public service, to nominate outstanding women in their states and territories. Deliberate action is needed to find and nominate women who are making a significant contribution to their profession and communities.”
The group founded in 2017 is pushing for gender equality in the Australian honours system, and to even up the imbalance that has seen men take 70 per cent of Australian honours awards since they were introduced in 1975. “Australian honours are predominantly conferred on older men from Anglo-Saxon backgrounds at the higher levels, while women are clustered in the lowest, Medal of the Order (OAM), category,” the group says. “For example, between 2012 and 2016 men received 56 Companion (AC) awards while women were awarded only 12 or 17 per cent of the awards.”