Women In Politics Break Their Silence On Being Ignored And Dismissed In ABC’s ‘Ms Represented’

Politicians including Julie Bishop, Penny Wong, and Linda Burney spoke up about 'gender deafness' in Parliament House.

Gender Deafness

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A number of female politicians have opened up about being constantly brushed over by their male colleagues in the ABC’s new series Ms Represented with Annabel Crabb.

Former Minister of Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop described the phenomenon as “gender deafness” — where ideas, suggestions, and opinions are looked over because the voice behind them is a woman.

It’s an unfortunate but universal experience tying women from all ends of the political spectrum together, explains Crabb.

“You think, oh okay, that was a dud,” Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young said about her thoughts being shut down when she spoke up in Canberra. “It’s like no one hears you,” agreed Labor MP Linda Burney.

Aussie women in politics said gender deafness was even worse when representation in Parliament House was lower than it is now, and more so if they were the only woman in the room.

Labor MP Anne Aly told Crabb that if she presented one of her takes, a male colleague would agree with her, before the rest of the room would claim it as his, “patting each other on the back for their wonderful idea they came up with”.

“This is the power of invisibility we have,” she said.

“It’s as if men in power, they still find it hard that good ideas can come from women,” former Labor Senator Margaret Reynolds told Crabb.

The explosive documentary comes a few weeks after former Liberal MP Julia Banks told 7.30’s Laura Tingle that working in Canberra felt like being transported back to the 1980s, sharing accounts of sexual harassment and bullying.

Last week, the Federal Government opted to fix gender inequality in politics by offering an optional, one-hour sexual harassment, assault, and bullying training course.

“The reason that men get away with this behaviour … is because it is a boy’s club and we do not have enough women in power making these decisions and changing the culture,” writer Jane Caro said when appearing on Q+A last year, regarding a political situation where little has been fixed, more than six months on.