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Dashing Mayor to attract more women into Local Government

MAYOR Bob Abbot has accepted a challenge to attract more women to local government.

But he won't be relying on his dashing good looks or snappy dress style to do it.

Mr Abbot will join an elite group of men from the local government world who have taken on the task of working to boost the number of talented women in their ranks.

He and the CEO of Redland City Council, Gary Stevenson, have been named South-East Queensland's representatives on the Women in Local Government Strategy Group – a statewide initiative for the Year of Women in Local Government.

It appears he is working from a solid base. Figures sourced by the Daily show the Sunshine Coast council is a fertile ground for women wanting to make their mark in local government.

Having five women among its 13 elected councillors (39%) does not make it a worldbeater when lined up against Brisbane City Council's 44% (12 of 27) and Gold Coast City Council's 50% (seven of 14), but internally the comparisons are much better.

Almost 42% of the Sunshine Coast council's staff are female, while 30% of people in senior management positions are also females.

That includes four of the council's eight most senior staff under CEO John Knaggs. The quartet includes executive director organisation performance, Ros Cheales; executive director community services, Lisbet Dean; director development services, Julie Edwards; and executive director Sunshine Coast Water, Judy Bailey.

On the Gold Coast, only two women are among the ranks of the seven most senior executive (29%), while Brisbane fares worse on 22% (47 of 217 executive staff).

But Brisbane City Council can boast one thing the others can't – a female CEO in Jude Munro, who has held the post for 10 years after being CEO of the St Kilda and Adelaide councils.

Overall, 37% of those on Gold Coast City Council's payroll are women (1353 of 3628) while the figure is 30% in Brisbane (3144 of 9268).

Mr Abbot said he was proud of the work his council had already done in employing women. "I've been in local government for almost 30 years and I've seen great progress made during that time," he said.

"The Sunshine Coast council strongly supports equal opportunity and we believe staff should be promoted on merit.

"I think the statistics reflect that approach and I'm pleased but not surprised to hear we compare well on that score. We're fortunate to have some tremendously talented women in our ranks."