Being a political science student and a member of a political party back home in Australia, I really wanted to write about what we learnt about today, which was political and social change, and what role women can play in this very important process. I definitely do believe that it is a lot harder for women to enter the political sphere than men, because of the very nature of politics. I know firsthand that politics can be a very manipulative, cold and calculating game, which can test one’s loyalty to friends and colleagues – something that I don’t think that many women are accustomed to, or want to be accustomed to.
Politics can also be very judgemental, and it seems to more negatively affect women than men. For men, it only matters that they are reasonably intelligent and articulate. For women, everything, from what they wear to their marital status seems to be judged. In Australia, our Prime Minister is female, and she is constantly being judged on her outfits; something that should not be an issue in governance. Likewise with being a business leader, female political leaders have to carefully manage their leadership style – be cooperative, but not soft; be assertive, but not pushy; be independent, but consultative.
‘When Women Rule’ is an article in the New York Times by Nicholas Kristof (yes, a man) that discusses the prejudices surrounding modern female political leaders.
As someone that hopes to go into politics one day, hopefully after I’ve had a career in law, I can’t pretend that I have all the answers. I wish that I had more female political mentors that could guide me through the process, but unfortunately not that many exist, and those that do seem afraid to be seen as ‘favouring women’. If I manage one day to have a successful political career, this is an attitude that I definitely hope to change.
Myself and Julie Bishop, The Deputy Leader of the Federal Opposition, who is one of Australia’s most prominent female politicians.
In the meantime, I think that women have to show authentic leadership when aiming at high political positions, in order to be preferenced over male colleagues that might be more interested in power or status. Though women will always be scrutinised more thoroughly than men, passion for change is almost always more apparent in women, and hopefully that is something that influences how people ultimately vote when it comes time for elections.