Fact Sheet on Women in Government as at January 1996*
Lists of government officials are subject to considerable variation due to elections and other changes. Therefore, the data cited is not current at the time it is incorporated into the database, but rather reflects the composition of a given government at a particular point in time, in this case as at January, 1996.
Officials were coded as either male or female according to first names. In situations where the identity implied by the name of the official was ambiguous or where first names were in a language not familiar to the researchers, assistance was sought from the diplomatic missions and United Nations officials from the country concerned. A total of 15,663 male and 1,576 female senior government officials were coded by sex, level and sectoral type of ministry, and were ranked at the four highest levels of government.
The methodology classified each official's position based on relative hierarchy and the structure of government. Job titles were therefore rank ordered. The top four levels used and their generally associated job titles are as follows:
- Level 1: Ministerial rank, including Ministers, Secretaries of State, heads of Central Banks and of agencies in the Cabinet.
- Level 2: Deputy and Vice Ministers.
- Level 3: Permanent Secretaries.
- Level 4: Deputy Permanent Secretaries.
Differences in hierarchical structure existed between the Offices of the President and Prime Ministers and the rest of the line Ministries. Similarly, there were differences in hierarchical structure among the line Ministries, with Defense, Interior, Foreign Affairs and Finance usually have variations from the norm within a given country.
Level I: As a general rule, all types of Ministers (or their equivalent) in the Offices of the President and Prime Minister were coded as Level 1. Ministers who headed specific Ministries were also coded as Level 1. However, Ministers of State within the line Ministries were coded as Level 2, ranking below the lead Minister, as they are considered to be the equivalent of Deputy Ministers, except in cases where they actually headed a specific Ministry, eg. Minister of State for Political Affairs in the Republic of Korea.
Heads of Central Banks (i.e. President, Governor) were coded at Level 1 (ministerial rank), as were the heads of important agencies who, in practice, were members of the Cabinet, e.g. the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency in the United States.
In countries without a specific Ministry of Justice but with an Office of the Attorney General, the post of Attorney General was classified at Level 1.
In countries where the government was led by some type of council, all the members were coded as Level 1 as was often the case where there was collective leadership or a military junta.
Certain regime types share common characteristics (e.g. Commonwealth states with British-style parliamentary systems, francophone Presidential systems, American-style Presidential systems and former Soviet-type systems). When coding, clusters of similar states were grouped according to regime type and compared to ensure as great a consistency as possible in terms of hierarchy.
When Ministers were represented either in the Offices of the President or Prime Minister as well as heading a specific Ministry, the power they derived from being Minister in charge of a particular Ministry was considered pre-eminent and they were counted accordingly. To avoid double-counting due to multiple portfolios, the most important role in terms of policy- and decision-making was counted. For example, a Prime Minister who held other ministerial portfolios was counted once as Prime Minister only and NOT in her/his other roles.
In cases where Ministers had multiple portfolios, the most important ministerial portfolio was counted based on the type of ministry involved and its relative rank within the prestige hierarchy, (i.e. political over economic, economic over legal and legal over social).
Similarly, when a government official was represented both in the Offices of the President or Prime Minister and within a line Ministry, the relative importance of their offices in terms of policy- and decision-making levels was evaluated and whichever position was more important was counted accordingly, e.g. if someone was an Adviser at Level 4 in the Office of the Prime Minister and a Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance at Level 3, s/he was counted once at Level 3 in Economic rather than at Level 4 in the Prime Minister's Office.
Furthermore, a specific post within a line Ministry may be ranked at a higher or lower level to a similarly titled position in the Office of the President or Prime Minister depending upon the function of the position and the hierarchy within each entity, e.g. The Secretary General of Political Affairs in the Office of the President in Paraguay was ranked at Level 2 whereas the Secretary General position in the line Ministries was ranked lower at Level 4, beneath the Minister (at Level 1), Vice Minister (at Level 2) and Undersecretary (at Level 3). If the same person were to occupy two such positions, clearly his/her role at Level 2 would be more important than the Level 4 post, and s/he would be counted once accordingly. Therefore, the key determinant would be structural hierarchy rather than consistency.
Level 2: As a general rule, Deputy Ministers (or their equivalents) were coded as Level 2 in the line Ministries, except in cases where there was an intermediate level within the hierarchy, eg. First Vice Ministers as opposed to Vice Ministers in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and in some CIS and Russian Federation states. In cases where Assistant Ministers (normally Level 2) were superseded by Deputy Ministers, the Assistant Ministers were coded as Level 3 as in the Republic of Korea. Thus, the schematic which dominates in this case is that hierarchy prevails over consistency.
Level 3: As a general rule, Permanent Secretaries (or their equivalents) in Commonwealth States were classified as Level 3 in the line Ministries except in cases where there were no Deputy Ministers (normally Level 2), then the Permanent Secretaries were coded as Level 2, eg. in the line Ministries in Antigua/Barbuda. Again, the schematic which prevails is hierarchy rather than consistency.
Level 4: The further down the hierarchy one goes, the more difficult it becomes to specify the exact post or titles involved due to an increasing number of intervening levels. In Commonwealth States at Level 4, these might be Deputy Permanent Secretaries (or their equivalents), Directors in charge of technical areas, eg. Chief Medical Officer or Chief Education Officer, or even Advisers. At this level, the preceding levels of hierarchy clearly determined which position was coded as Level 4.
* Data compiled by the Division for the Advancement of Women, United Nations, based on January 1996 information from the Worldwide Government Directory 1996, Bethesda, Maryland, U.S.A.