Reflecting on her political career at an all-female panel in Sydney, former-deputy Prime Minister, Julie Bishop, has admitted that a high-ranking political position can be quite lonely for some women. At one stage, Bishop was the only woman in an all-male Cabinet.
Recent female departures add fuel to the fire
After bringing an end to her illustrious career in politics, Bishop’s claim that Australian politics can be an unforgiving and isolating field for women has seemingly been backed up by recent events. Indeed, the departure of the Minister for Jobs and Industrial Relations, Kelly O’Dwyer, and Labor MP, Kate Ellis, perhaps suggests that the realm of politics has been somewhat uninviting.
Having said that, there is no doubt that the frequent travelling and time away from families can take a large toll on those in office. In fact, O’Dwyer cited personal reasons justifying her choice to not contest the upcoming federal election, suggesting that she wanted to spend more time with her young children.
Is there a problem that needs to be fixed?
Bishop has suggested that the core of the problem with women in Parliament is quite clearly a cultural issue. Ironically, she recommended that the way to possible solve this would be to spend less time in Parliament. Bishop referred to the need for electronic voting in Australia, which has been instigated in countries like the Ukraine.
Former Liberal member, Julia Banks, has also been highly vocal in her criticism of the Liberal Party’s treatment of women. Banks likened the culture of the Liberal Party to a hybrid of male-dominated television programs like Mad Men. Greens senator, Sarah Hanson-Young, has also been critical of what she believes has been an overall decline in Parliamentary behaviour.
Ultimately, Bishop has reinforced that she believes Federal Parliament is not a ‘family friendly place’ and that women can find it difficult to embrace the male-dominated camaraderie.