A public service agency has doubled its proportion of female bosses in just a few months after radically altering some of its hiring practices.
But Australian Bureau of Statistics says that a much simpler method: just asking women what they wanted from their jobs, worked wonders in recruiting female bosses.
The ABS' "blind" recruitment round filled hundreds of jobs late last year, after the lifting of the public service's hiring freeze, with names and other identifying details of the applicants withheld from the selection panels.
The bureau's move could become a template for success across the Australian Public Service as it grapples with its women problem: the lack of female elite Senior Executive Service level employees.
The bureaucracy has made progress in moving women into positions of influence but the latest official figures show just 42 per cent of senior executives are female, despite women making up nearly 60 per cent of the service.
The Bureau of Statistics was among the laggards midway through 2015 with women making up just 21 per cent of senior executives, so the bureau got some outside help, hiring consultants to look at ways of tackling "unconscious bias" in the recruitment process.
Jonathan Palmer, the bureau's chief operating officer, said unconscious bias is an invisible enemy of workplace diversity.
"Despite people's best intentions, they still operate in a way that draws on their inherent biases," Mr Palmer told The Canberra Times.
"It wasn't about perfect anonymity because you can't redact everything that might indicate somebody's identity or origin, you might end up with the whole application blacked out.
"But you can certainly remove any indication of what the person's gender is."
Mr Palmer said the blind recruitment process was not as important in addressing the gender gap as simply listening to what female employees wanted from executive level jobs and then designing roles with the flexibility to attract talented women.
"We are designing jobs that are appropriately flexible, making it possible for people to work from home, or working from another office so they don't have to move to Canberra to get into the SES," he said.
"That's a very powerful enabler of advancement for women,
"The other thing I found was just the need to encourage women to apply...women like to apply when they're very ready, blokes will often just apply if they think they've got a shot at it.
"So we encourage supervisors to ask, don't assume when considering which staff may be interested in new challenges or opportunities
"You might find that the woman you thought was desperate to get home and look after her kid is actually up for a bit more of a challenge, so you should ask and don't make assumptions."
By the time the ABS finished its 2015 hiring drive, 350 of the 613 successful applicants were women, and 43 per cent of its senior executives were female.
Samantha Palmer (no relation) is the bureau's general manager of governance, people and culture, hired last October at SES Band 2 level, and she said her employer's approach works for her.
"The ABS has definitely introduced flexible working arrangements here in a way that I haven't seen at other agencies I've worked at," Ms Palmer said.
"In some of our state offices, we've really gone a long way to be being more flexible and we'll be introducing that to Canberra in the next year or so.
"We have SES roles outside of Canberra and we have part time SES roles for women as well as men, we take our responsibilities to support caring very much into account."