Rachel Nolan, former member of the Queensland Parliament from 2001 to 2012 has written a fantastic article in the May issue of The Monthly about the lack of diversity in the Abbott government and the consistent appointment of older, white, men to positions of influence.
She notes that the Prime Minister is oblivious to this trend towards a lack of diversity in his government: “The PM has argued loudly and repeatedly that all the appointments have been merit-based – and that their limited gene pool has been coincidence, happenstance or of secondary importance anyway.”
This is of course, despite evidence to the contrary: “In 2014, the proportion of women in Australian parliaments is actually trending down. Following this year’s state elections, 21% of Coalition MPs across state and federal parliaments are women, while Labor has more than twice that level of female representation at 43%. The fall in overall numbers of women in Australian parliaments is entirely the result of the conservative ascendancy.”
However, she notes that it’s not as simple as appointing capable women to positions of power. Even after they occupy these positions, they face pressures and expectations from the public that their male peers aren’t subject to. As a former politician herself, she knows this degree of scrutiny first hand.
“Female political candidates are told to dress differently, to wear less jewellery and colour and more sober suits; they’re told to lower their voices in fear of the great turn-off, that they’ll come across on the radio sounding like a girl. They’re constantly told to toughen up, to not act “emotionally”.”
In short, they are told to be less stereotypically female, and to become more masculine in their manner – because to be female, is to be seen as a liability.
This needs to change.
And that is why Women for Election Australia has been formed. Dedicated to developing the future political potential of women in Australia, Women for Election Australia can make a difference through developing and equipping future leaders of Australia… many of whom we hope will be women.
After all, as Rachel Nolan says in her article, “While it is one thing for the women of Australia to be offended by their exclusion, it is quite another for all of us to see our future endangered by a narrow band of conservative older men set on returning us to a past that can no longer exist.”
Now is the time to take action. Express your interest in Women for Election Australia now.