HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, 22 MARCH 2021
Today I was joined in my office by Sharmini Caldwell, who's taking place in Jasiri Australia's Girls Takeover Parliament, a program encouraging young women to engage with politics.
After similar takeovers in previous years, nine out of 10 participants left wanting to pursue a career in politics. But this month, founder Caitlin Figueiredo surveyed those same participants again, and she found that, right now, only one in 10 would consider running for office.
That survey result echoed what happened when Australian of the Year Grace Tame was asked at the National Press Club if she would run for politics. Her response was, 'Noooooo.'
I've worked in corporate law, taught at a business school and attended hundreds of economics seminars, but this is the most macho occupation I've ever encountered.
It doesn't have to be that way. Just as the misogynistic treatment of Julia Gillard turned some talented young women off politics, young women today are less likely to consider a career in political staffing, political journalism or elected office if they don't see themselves in parliament and feel they can be safe.
As Sharmini Caldwell put it to me:
'It's not up to women alone. There is a responsibility on men to do better and to ensure that the men around them do better.'
Authorised by Paul Erickson, ALP, Canberra.