Analysis of Federal Election Candidates Shows Politics Remains an ‘Old Boys’ Club’

Four out of five women running for one of the main parties in the next election face a common problem.

Only two in 10 women candidates from the Labor Party or the Liberal-National Coalition are vying for seats to be won, according to a new study.

The Australian National University’s analysis of the 151 candidates for the House of Representatives from the Coalition and Labor Party reveals that the two main parties are much more likely to nominate men for the seats they are expected to win or retain.

The proportion of women candidates for the Labor Party and the Coalition is 43% and 29% respectively.

But Professor Michelle Ryan of the university’s Global Institute for Women’s Leadership says those numbers alone don’t tell the whole story.

She says the “old school club” mentality prevails in Australian politics.

For Labour, 24% of the party’s female candidates are vying for safe seats – which the party holds by a margin of 6% or more – compared to 33% of male candidates.

Liberals and Nationals have 20% of their female candidates running for safe seats, compared to 46% of men.

Camera iconOnly around two in 10 women candidates from the Coalition or the Labor Party are running for winnable seats for Parliament. NCA NewsWire/Gary Ramage Credit: News Corp Australia

Prof Ryan says the Australian election is an example of the ‘cliff of glass’ phenomenon where women are offered riskier and more precarious leadership positions.

The study she conducted finds that 76% of Labor women candidates fit this definition based on their running for seats they have very little chance of winning or which are difficult to keep.

The proportion of candidates for the “glass wall” rises to 80% when analyzing the candidates for the Coalition elections.

In comparison, the equivalent proportion of male Labor candidates running for marginal or “unwinnable” seats is 67% and 54% for the Coalition.

Professor Ryan argues that while some female candidates will win marginal seats or seats held securely by their political opponents, their positions in parliament will remain precarious.

“If you’re not aware of the idea of ​​the glass cliff, you might just conclude that women just aren’t as good at politics; they didn’t win that many votes,’ Professor Ryan said.

She says the “short answer” to why Australia has so many female candidates who fall into this category “is sexism and misogyny”.

“The longer answer is probably that I think there could be a number of reasons happening. We see some differences between Labor and the Coalition (but) they both have issues,” she said. declared.

Independent Review of Gymnastics Australia
Camera iconSex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins has recommended that more women be elevated to leadership positions and elected to Parliament. NCA NewsWire/Joel Carrett Credit: News Corp Australia

Prof Ryan says she supports the idea of ​​every Australian political party introducing a gender quota to improve women’s representation in parliament.

She notes that improving gender equality was one of the recommendations made by the independent Jenkins study on workplace culture in Parliament.

This report recommended the introduction of targets to achieve gender balance among parliamentarians.

Since 1994, Labor has been using the quotas it filled by electing a number of women to secure seats, with a target of 50% female representation by 2025.

Both the Liberal and National parties have rejected calls to introduce their own quotas saying there are other ways to get women into parliament.

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