WOB is responsible for enabling thousands of women to achieve board and committee roles in its 12-year history and advocates successfully on policies impacting women’s capacity to lead.
WOB founders, Claire Braund and Ruth Medd, said the events of the past two weeks had shown just how deep and strong the biases are against a woman leading the Liberal Party and the very real barriers women face to being preselected.
“If the party could not support Julie Bishop - a woman who has proven everything when it comes to political leadership and was the most popular voter candidate for PM – it shows there is something deeply awry in the Liberal camp,” Medd and Braund said.
“Women we have spoken to are embarrassed and appalled at the public treatment of Ms Bishop and the bullying of female politicians in general – it would not be allowed in the workplace but seems acceptable in the corridors of Parliament House.”
“There are endless stories of women who face pre-selection committees asking how they will juggle / manage family responsibilities during the campaign and if they are elected, while male candidates are rarely, if ever, asked the same question. It’s very hard to argue the case for merit-based selection, when women have a higher bar to jump over than men.”
A number of women in the Liberal Party have tried unsuccessfully to introduce a similar quota system to the Liberal Party. Former Victorian Liberal Senator, Judith Troeth, argued in her paper, ‘Modernising the Parliamentary Liberal Party by Adopting the Organisational Wing’s Quota System for Pre-selections’in 2011, that it was “illogical for the Liberal Party to reject quotas for preselecting election candidates when it has always accepted them for the organisational wing of the party.”
Medd and Braund said that the 10-year plan to have 50 per cent female Liberal MPs by 2025 (released in 2016) through ‘mentoring via a Male Champions of Change initiative’, appears to have gone no-where and was pie in the sky at best.
“To get more female MPs you actually have to pre-select them - preferably in safe seats - which means men have to step aside. Instead of working on the women, the Liberal Party would be better mentoring the branch members who pre-select the candidates and creating an environment where women felt welcomed and able to put their hands up for pre-selection.”
“Sadly, while ever boofy blokes with boarding school attitudes stand in a room with like-minded men and talk to the walls -rather than heed the electorates call for cultural and behavioural change and DO something about the lack of women on their side of Parliament, the Liberal Party will fight an uphill battle to remain relevant.”
- There is a higher percentage of female Coalition members in Cabinet (26%) than there are in Parliament (21%).
- 13 of 76 Coalition members in the House of Representatives (17%) are female compared with 21 of 69 (41%) for the ALP.
- 9 of 30 Coalition members in the Senate (30%) are female compared with 14 of 26 (54%) for the ALP.