The Pathways to Politics media page highlights articles, editorials and information related to the program.
Why the next editor-in-chief at The Age should be a woman
The departing words of The Age’s editor-in-chief, Mark Forbes, who resigned this week amid allegations of sexual harassment, spoke to a gender ideal at a time of reputational damage for the newspaper:
… our dealings with all women must be respectful and equitable at all times.
These words reflect the socially progressive agenda (relative to the times) of the 159-year-old masthead from the days of the Syme brothers to the digital age. Yet, as progressive as The Age can be, why has it never had a female editor-in-chief?
The answer is clearly more complex than the paper’s editorial position. It leads to a much broader conversation about gender representation in Australia’s public and private institutions.
A POWER IMBALANCE
With Australia sliding steadily down the world ranks of female political representation, a new University program is preparing to light the path for aspiring women politicians. Gay Alcorn reports.
Cathy McGowan AO became a politician when she was nearly 60. But the independent member for Indi was hardly a political novice when she won the northeastern Victorian seat in 2013. She had spent much of her adult life in politics of one sort or another, especially as founding member and later president of Women in Agriculture – lobbying, networking, pushing to get things done. McGowan (DipEd 1976), now 62, has some advice for women thinking seriously about a political career: you’ve got to learn the skills, preferably before you stand as a candidate. And even before that, you’ve got to work out what you really care about.
"The first thing I'd want to say is you've got to work out yourself what your platform is," she says. "There's not much point unless you've got a bit of vision about what you’ve got to say and that takes a lot of work to refine."
GOOD LEADERSHIP MEANS EQUAL REPRESENTATION FOR WOMEN
We know women are underrepresented in politics. Instead of wringing our hands, we must take positive steps to change that. By Professor Helen Sullivan. March 8, 2016, The Age newspaper
Seven out of every 10 members of Parliament are men. Imagine for a moment if, instead, five out of 10 members were women. Let's go further. What if in all levels of government women were represented equally as MPs, as ministers, on commissions, and in local councils?
If you believe there would be differences, then you must think having more women in government could fundamentally change our society. I agree, and evidence bears this out.
What if policies were debated on their merit, rather than attacked to score short-term political gains? A recent study by Sarah Anzia, at Stanford University, and Christopher Berry, at the University of Chicago, on US congressional representation found that congresswomen sponsor more bills and obtain more co-sponsorships for their legislation than their male colleagues do.
FOUR WAYS TO GET MORE WOMEN INTO PARLIAMENT
Australia needs to develop multiple ways to bring more women into the political pipeline and help them succeed. By Professor Carolyn Evans, Dean, Melbourne Law School, University of Melbourne
Australian parliaments continue to lag behind many Australian workplaces and other countries when it comes to participation by women.
The Inter-Parliamentary Association lists Australia at 45 in the world for representation of women and an Australian Parliament Library report shows women make up somewhere between a quarter and a third of members in the Commonwealth and all state parliaments except Tasmania (where representation has reached 37.5%).
This is despite Australia being an international leader in enfranchising women and giving them the right to stand for Parliament.
The problems of under-representation are multiple and require complex, multi-faceted solutions. There has been much debate about the merits of quota systems and they deserve serious consideration. Here are four issues that need to be considered in addition or alternatively to quota systems to increase women’s representation.
THE HARVARD PLAN TO GET MORE WOMEN INTO POWER
"Ditch the Witch" marked a new low in Australian politics, but how much has changed for female political candidates in 2016? By Sonia Harford. May 21, 2016 in The Age newspaper
Shorten or Turnbull have yet to face a poisonous insult such as that, once levelled at former Prime Minister Julia Gillard, and it's unlikely they will. Neither are they likely to be called the modern-day equivalent of "Bob Brown's bitch" or face the "dirt sheets" filled with sexual innuendo that intimidate other women in politics.
Outbreaks of such vitriol show Australia has a distinct problem with women and politics, according to the developers of a new university course designed for women.
Sonia Harford. "Behind great women Dame Quentin Bryce prods and says 'Get in there!'" on The Sydney Morning Herald website, June 5, 2016
Salena Zito. "Gender gap in politics still wide as family obligations, lack of mentorship keep women from running" on the TribLIVE website, June 10, 2016
Lori Beaman, Raghabendra Chattopadhyay, Esther Duflo, Rohini Pande and Petia Topalova. "Powerful Women: Does Exposure Reduce Bias?" on the Gender Action Portal website.
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