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3: Diversity and Gender

The APS employment data tracks diversity rates of gender, Indigenous employees, employees with a disability and employees from a non-English speaking background.

Over the past few years data from the APS employee survey has supplemented this data. Data from the 2018 employee survey will be used to report on cultural and linguistic diversity and LGBTI representation. More detailed analysis on diversity of the APS will be reported in the Australian Public Service Commissioner’s report on the State of the Service which will be tabled at the end of November 2018.

APS employment data suggests that the APS continues to improve its employee diversity. Indigenous representation has increased over the last five years and is moving toward the APS contribution to the Commonwealth Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander target of 3.8%.

The proportion of employees with a disability is 3.7%. This is a slight increase from the previous decade. 

The combined proportion of employees from non-English speaking backgrounds has increased from 13.0% in 2008 to 14.3% in 2018.

Diversity proportion of employees at 30 June 2008, 2013 and 2018

Source:  APSED June 2018 Table 68

It is mandatory for agencies to collect diversity details of their employees, but providing diversity details is optional for an individual employee. This means that diversity rates may be underestimated in some cases—for example, where employees do not wish to disclose that they have a disability. The reporting of disability rates based on employee Census data is explored in more detail in the annual State of the Service report.


The overall proportion of women in the APS is 59%. With the exception of trainees, there were more women than men at all classification levels up to and including EL 1s. There are more than twice as many women than men at the APS 4 level. There was a lower proportion of women at the senior levels (EL 2 and SES) than men. 

Numbers of women at the EL 2 level continue to increase, now representing 46% of employees at that level, up from 31% in 2003. Over the same time period, the proportion of female SES has increased substantially to 44.8% in 2018 from 29.5% in 2003.  Slightly more women than men (50.8%) joined the SES in 2017–18, indicating that this gap will continue to close over the next few years. (APSED June 2018 Table 10 and APSED June 2018 Table 41).

Proportion of APS employees by Classification and Gender, 30 June 2018

Source:  APSED June 2018 Table 10

The APS reported a gender pay gap of 8.4% at December 2017. On a level-by-level basis, there were only small differences between male and female Base Salaries at each classification level.  

Although the majority of APS staff (59%) are female, most of these staff are clustered at the APS 6 level and below. While at-level gaps are largest at the SES classifications, the impact of the SES cohort on the overall pay gap is relatively minor. This is due to the smaller volume of employees at the SES classifications compared with APS classifications. The large representation of women in APS levels has a much larger impact on the gender pay gap. See the 2017 APS Remuneration Report for more details.

Last reviewed: 
27 September 2018