SEARCH

SEARCH BY CITATION

Findings from six qualitative research projects were combined to construct an evaluation of gender and equality of opportunity in public sector organizations in Northern Ireland. Through interviews and focus groups, these projects targeted equal opportunities officers, chief executives, general staff and trade unionists. In addition, a computer database containing all documentation relating to equal opportunities was developed. The evaluation addressed four primary areas, namely policy development and implementation; resources, channels of communication and organizational structures; where women figure and barriers to progress; and practical steps and positive action. The research found large differences in organizational responses to equal opportunities, with related activities often on the periphery of day-to-day management of the organization. Perceptions of the organizations' commitment to equality also varied considerably, with managers describing the proximity between the organization's value system and equal opportunities but employees and trade unionists being more sceptical of these claims. The implications for policy, structures and training needs are discussed in the light of these findings.