2022 AO recipient Gina Rinehart (Image: AAP/Dave Hunt)

The recipients of the 2022 Australia Day honours included a record percentage of women -- 47%. While this marks significant process in the historically inequitable honours, recognition for women’s work is still lacking in the upper echelons of the awards.

Equality on the surface is not enough

For the highest honour, Companion of the Order of Australia (AC), only two out of seven awards went to women. The next level was close to equality: the Officer of the Order (AO) was awarded to 11 women and 14 men. One of those women was Australia's richest person, mining magnate and political donor Gina Rinehart.

Quotas for the awards allow for a certain number to be given each year -- for example, up to 15 ACs can be awarded. The lack of gender equality for the top honours stems not from a limitation on awards, but rather the process which requires honourees to be nominated by the community.