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The missing cohort: women in local government

Serious woman in yellow jacket giving a presentation
Journal article by Andrea Carson, Gosia Mikolajczak and Leah Ruppanner, 2022.
Published in Australasian Parliamentary Review, vol 36, issue 2.

Australia historically lags other democracies in its gender representation in legislative bodies. While Victorian councils achieved a record 43.8% of women elected to councils in 2020, outperforming most federal and state parliamentary tiers, they were still shy of the Victorian Government’s local government target of gender parity by 2025.

This article uses mixed methods to investigate women’s experiences in running for Victorian local government and gender differences in electoral success and experience as a counsellor. The findings reveal a positive story about women’s electability: despite fewer women running for office, their success rate is higher than men’s. However, the data also shows a missing cohort of younger women. Paid full-time work, childrearing and household responsibilities are key barriers to elected office for younger women.

This study contributes to the theme of ‘Parliament as a Gendered Workplace’ and makes recommendations to narrow the gender gap in politics.

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