Culture

Good News: The Proportion Of Women In Parliament Increased By A Massive 1.9 Percent

Yay, we finally beat Afghanistan!

To our eternal shame, Australia has never done too well when it comes to the proportion of women in our Parliament. According to the Inter-Parliamentary Union, Australia’s last Parliament didn’t even make it into the top 50 when it came to the number of women in the House of Representatives.

Prior to this Saturday’s election only 26.7 percent of Australian lower house MPs were women. We were beaten by Afghanistan, Poland, New Zealand, Argentina, Denmark, Uganda and plenty of others. It’s a pretty disappointing figure, and analysis conducted prior to last weekend’s federal election showed it was unlikely to get much better.

The Coalition and Labor both ran significantly more male candidates than women in the House of Representatives. The Greens had an exactly 50-50 split. Even though the results for the House of Representatives aren’t finalised yet, we crunched the gender breakdown numbers based on the way seats are most likely to fall and the results are… mixed, at best.

Overall the proportion of women in the House of Representatives went from 26.7 percent to 28.6 percent, an increase of 1.9%. It’s not exactly a momentous shift. According to the Inter-Parliamentary Union Australian would now be rank 49th, just edging Afghanistan out of the top 50. Congratulations Australia, you beat Afghanistan, where women were granted legal constitutional rights in 2004.

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The estimated proportion of female MPs in the House of Representatives

When it comes to a party by party breakdown the Coalition did really, really bad. Only 17.6 percent of Coalition MPs are women. That’s actually down from 19 percent in the last parliament. It’s not just political authority the Coalition lost over the weekend, it was any semblance of gender equality.

The Labor party stayed pretty much flat, going from 38.2 to 38.7 percent, which is much better than the Coalition. The Nick Xenophon Team is pulling up the national average with the ABC projecting the party to win two House of Representatives seats where the party was running women candidates.

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The proportion of female MP’s from Labor and the Coalition

Data from the ABC’s Vote Compass shows that nearly half of all women support the use of quotas to increase the proportion of women in parliament, while more than half of all men oppose the idea. Labor voters were more likely to support quotas while Coalition votes hated the idea.

So the people who benefit the most from the current system want to keep it. What a surprise. Great job male Coalition voters, you keep those pesky women down. All up it’s a pretty bleak result for Australia. Once the Senate result is finalised it might shift things slightly, but on the available evidence our political parties really need to lift their game when it comes to women’s representation in politics.