Australian women are woefully under-represented in Parliament. Although our country was the first in the world to grant women the right to vote and stand as candidates, we rank 56th in the representation of women worldwide, behind Uzbekistan, Zimbabwe, Germany and Suriname.
By comparison, New Zealand are sixth. By 2021, we will be in a situation where less than a third of House members will be women.
In our recently published study, we examined whether these low numbers are due to discrimination against female candidates and voters by political parties. We found that while Australian voters use preferences for men and women at the ballot box, they are not inclined to do so in the same way.
In short, with Australian voters no longer inclined to favour male candidates over women in terms of candidates, it is not in the interest of the major parties to continue to do so.
The parties, on the other hand, would do well to do better. Another reason is representation: women have more seats than they used to.
Research has shown that women in parliament are more inclined and more collegial to find bipartisan solutions.