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Coalition’s lost ground on women MPs shows we need to tackle new gender biases

Renata Bongiorno writes in The Conversation (12.7.16) about the decreasing number of women MPs in the Coalition government’s ranks, and what differences this signifies in the political culture of the major parties.

‘The 2016 election has left the Liberal-National Coalition with 12 women MPs in the House of Representatives. That’s a mere 16%, down from 20% after the 2013 election, and it could go to 15% if the Coalition retains Herbert and Hindmarsh.

‘This contrasts with Labor, which currently has 67 seats including 28 women MPs. The seat of Herbert – where it stood a female candidate – is still in doubt. But Labor has certainly increased its proportion of women MPs from 36% in 2013 to 42%, a proportion that won’t go below 41% and could be as high as 43%.

‘The divide in gender balance between Australia’s two major political parties has steadily increased since Labor introduced quotas for women in 1994.’

She’ll be right: why conservative voters fail to see gender as an obstacle to political success

Andrea Carson writes in The Conversation (12.9.18) about new research which shows that conservative voters generally fail to see how being female can impede political success, while left-of-centre voters list gender as the main obstacle to success.

‘When Julie Bishop called out that it was “not acceptable” for her party to add to Australia’s political gender gap, it marked a watershed moment for conservative politics.

‘Her speech at a Women’s Weekly forum last week marked the first time Bishop, a party heavyweight, had publicly acknowledged the party’s role in the under-representation of women in Australian politics.

‘Women make up 50.7% of the Australian population, yet just under a third of the federal Parliament. About one in five federal Coalition MPs is female.

‘Bishop’s comments followed a string of Liberal women exposing the party’s discriminatory culture which many women find so unwelcoming. The most explosive was first-term Liberal Julia Banks’s decision to quit parliament because of alleged bullying from “within my own party”.’

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