The Treatment Of Females In Australian Politics

“When a feisty, amazing woman like Julia Banks says this environment is not for me, don’t say ‘toughen up princess’, say ‘enough is enough’,” said Julie Bishop in response to Julia Banks’s withdrawal from the upcoming elections due to the “bullying and intimidation” she has been subjected to. And she is not alone.

The most recent Liberal Party leadership spill has shed light on a lot of issues,  such as the Australian Government’s instability and most importantly its treatment of women in politics. Heavy allegations about bullying within the Liberal Party surfaced after Julie Bishop’s dismissal. Since then, several liberal women have spoken up about their experiences with the intimation and bullying from Peter Dutton supporters. Julie Bishop, herself, has publicly stated in a women’s weekly award event that the behaviour in parliament is “appalling,” She emphasized the severity of it by labelling the behaviour as a “norm in parliament.”

With many of these allegations surfacing, ABC News believes that women are now even more hesitant to enter Australian Politics, a space long dominated by men. Even before the whole leadership spill debacle, ABC News has reported that “academics says that Australians are ‘too conservative’ to put more women in power.” Dr. Sheppard, an Australian National University lecturer, further states that studies have reflected a reluctance to have women represent and lead them among parties, major or not.

It is a sad reality to be confronted with. Even in the the 21st Century, female empowerment still has a long way to go. No doubt, it is true that some progress has been made in the last 25 to 30 years, as more women are being featured in the political landscape. However, there is more to be done before women in politics are no longer subjected to the alleged ill-treatment.

Detractors of this argument cite many other reasons that contribute to the low participation rate of women in politics. For instance, Ms. Sandy Bolton claims that the long working hours, impact on their families, and cyberbullying that politicians experience, dissuade women from entering politics.

Some take a more optimistic view. Dr. Sheppard emphasized that despite the numbers that reflect a discouraging outlook of women’s prospects in politics, “it won’t be that way forever.” “Every generation is getting more used to females in leadership positions.” said Dr. Sheppard.
With more women in power speaking up against the ill-treatment of women in politics, we are taking a step forward in what seems to be a long road to ending this disturbing “norm” within the parliament. 
Lew Ching Yip