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Women in Australian politics: Mothers only need apply

Volume 12, Issue 1

April, 2006

From page
54
to page
63
Jenkins, Cathy. (2006) Women in Australian politics: Mothers only need apply. Pacific Journalism Review, 12(1): 54-63.
Author(s): Cathy Jenkins
Publication date: 
April, 2006

When Julia Gillard considered running for the leadership of the Australian Labor Party in early 2005, her political enemies immediately raised three reasons for opposing her: she is female, single and without children. These criticisms prompted a flurry of discussion in the media about the relevance of a person’s family situation to their ability to work effectively in politics. This article examines the treatment of female politicians by the press over the more than 80 years since the first woman appeared in any Australian parliament. It finds that there continues to be pressure on women to continue in the traditional roles of wife and mother, while more recently, female politicians have had to contend with an extra layer of coverage concentrating on their sexual attributes.