It is hardly a surprise that the new appointee to DCMS is a woman – after almost two years at the top of the civil service, Sir Bob Kerslake and Sir Jeremy Heywood had failed to promote a single woman to permanent secretary – and had faced a mini-exodus of their predecessor’s much trumpeted appointees. DCMS is also Whitehall’s smallest department, with a woman Secretary of State and responsibility for equalities. We looked at the appointment of women permanent secretaries to run departments since 1997 (thus omitting Richard Crossman’s famous nemesis, Dame Evelyn Sharp at the then Ministry for Housing and Local Government). What emerges is that there are some departments where a woman permanent secretary now represents business as usual: the most senior position in Wales, DCMS, Defra and – perhaps counterintuitively given the traditional male dominance of transport industries – the Department for Transport. Each of these has had two women permanent secretaries – and in the case of Defra a woman was appointed to take over from a woman. Top of the list is HMRC – where Lin Homer succeeded Dame Lesley Strathie after her early death – and where Dame Valerie Strachan was chair of the […]

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