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. By Gay Alcorn

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."