NSW:Entering too late? Women in Parliamentary Politics

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


    There has been a growing international literature on the substantive representation of women and how it may occur, both inside and outside parliament. At the beginning of 2011 women dominated executive government in New South Wales (NSW), Australia’s most populous State. Women held the positions of State Premier and Deputy Premier and also the more symbolic role of State Governor. The visibility of women in power was not matched, however, by any discursive or policy emphasis on gender equality. Women had been late to enter the lower house, and were less than 10 per cent of members until the mid-1990s. Their eventual entry in significant numbers, aided by party quotas, coincided with the ascendancy of neoliberal discourse and the marginalising of social justice claims. This paper will explore the institutional dynamics that delayed the entry of women into the NSW parliament, particularly the role of machine politics and the factional system within the Australian Labor Party. Such blockages resulted in the women’s movement seeking alternative pathways to policy influence, particularly through the State bureaucracy. This influence reached its height in the 1970s and 80s, long before any significant presence of women in parliament or cabinet. The paper draws both on election manifestos and a case study of domestic violence policy. These support the view that the substantive representation of women''s concerns does not necessarily stem from increases in the number of women representatives, and highlights the importance of the political and discursive context.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationBreaking Male Dominance in Old Democracies
    EditorsDrude Dahlerup and Monique Leyenaar
    Place of PublicationOxford
    PublisherOxford University Press
    Pages49 - 71
    ISBN (Print)9780199653898
    Publication statusPublished - 2013


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