Research Reports

At WFEA we like to understand what is really happening in Australian and International politics. If you know of any research your think we should look at and share please let us know.

Getting Elected

Katrine Beauregard (2017) ‘Quotas and Gender Gaps in Political Participation among established Industrial European Democracies: Distinguishing Within- and Across-Country Effects, Political Research Quarterly.

Mona Lena Krook (2009) Beyond supply and demand: A Feminist-Institutionalist Theory of Candidate Selection Political Research Quarterly.
Jennifer Piscopo and Meryl Kenny (2020) “Rethinking the Ambition Gap: Gender and Candidate Emergence in Comparative Perspective” The European Journal of Politics and Gender.

Andrea Carson, Leah Ruppanner & Jenny M. Lewis (2019) Race to the top: using experiments to understand gender bias towards female politicians, Australian Journal of Political Science.

Jennifer L. Lawless and Richard L. Fox (2013) Girls Just Wanna Not Run: The Gender Gap in Young American’s Political Ambition..

Joy McCann (2013) Electoral quotas for women: an international overview Parliamentary Library.

Nankyung Choi (2019) Women’s political pathways in Southeast Asia, International Feminist Journal of Politics.

Jennifer Piscopo (2019) ‘The limits of leaning in: ambition, recruitment, and candidate training in comparative perspective’, Politics, Groups, and Identities..

Women’s political leadership

Paulo Arvate, Sergio Firpo and Renan Pieri (2014) Gender stereotypes in politics: what changes when a woman becomes the local political leader?
Julia Gillard and Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala (2020) Women and leadership: Real lives, real lessons Vintage Australia.
IWDA (2018) Victorian Women’s Leadership Pathways Research Brief.
Abby McLeod (2015) Women’s leadership in the Pacific.
Marija Taflaga & Katrine Beauregard (2020) The Merit of Party Institutions: Women’s Descriptive Representation and Conservative Parties in Australia and the United Kingdom, Journal of Women, Politics & Policy.
Committee for Economic Development of Australia (2013) Women in Leadership: Understanding the gender gap.
Elise Howard (2019) Effective Support for Women’s Leadership in the Pacific: Lessons from the Evidence.
IWDA (2020) Women’s Leadership Pathways.
Tam O’Neil and Georgia Plank, with Pilar Domingo (2015) Support to women and girls’ leadership: A rapid review of the evidence.
Westminster Foundation for Democracy and the Global Institute for Women’s Leadership (2020) Women political leaders: the impact of gender on democracy.
Lucina di Meco (2017) Women’s Political Networks: Defining Leadership, Breaking Barriers, and Fostering Change.
IWDA (2019) Public Perceptions of Women as Political Leaders: A Multi-Country Study.
Mona Lena Krook (2020) Violence against Women in Politics Oxford University Press.
Ceridwen Spark, John Cox and Jack Corbett (2018) Being the First: Women Leaders in the Pacific Islands.

Collected below are some useful resources to help you understand how Australian political life compares to the rest of the world.

Women in political leadership

1) Global
2) Australia and Asia Pacific
3) USA
4) The EU

1. Global

The Global Gender Gap Report 2020

Gender parity is fundamental to whether and how economies and societies thrive. Ensuring the full development and appropriate deployment of half of the world’s total talent pool has a vast bearing on the growth, competitiveness and future-readiness of economies and businesses worldwide. The Global Gender Gap Report benchmarks 144 countries on their progress towards gender parity across four thematic dimensions: Economic Participation and Opportunity, Educational Attainment, Health and Survival, and Political Empowerment.

FYI: Australia ranks 44th overall but 57th in terms of political empowerment of women.

Worldwide Women Public Sector Leaders Index 2014: Opening the door for women working in government

EY’s Worldwide Women Public Sector Leaders Index charts the representation of women in public sector leadership positions across G20 countries. Gives rise to a conversation about the policies, measures and role models that are needed to promote and retain the female talent that abounds in the public sector.

Electoral quotas for women: an international overview

Dr Joy McCann
With less than one in five parliamentarians across the world being women, legal or voluntary electoral gender quotas are used in more than half of the world’s countries as the most effective mechanism for increasing women’s political representation. Electoral quotas have gained international support and have proven to be effective in ‘fast-tracking’ women’s political representation to produce equality of results, not just equality of opportunity.

Do Electoral Quotas Work after They Are Withdrawn? Evidence from a Natural Experiment in India (2010)

Rikhil Bhavnani

Quotas have continuing positive effects on women’s political representation at least one cycle after they are withdrawn.

Gender Mainstreaming in the Australian Parliament: Achievement with room for improvement

Sonia A. Palmieri

Explores how the Australian Parliament has fared over the past 20 years in gender mainstreaming. It develops a framework for gender mainstreaming in parliaments and applies that to the Australian context.

2. Australia and Asia Pacific

The polarising effect of female leaders: Interest in politics and perceived leadership capability after a reminder of Australia’s first female prime minister.

Dr Christopher Hunt, Dr Karen Gonsalkorale and Dr Lisa Zadro

(2015) European Journal of Social Psychology, 44, 723-729.

The study assessed 167 Australian undergraduate students on a measure of conformity to gender norms. They then either read statements about generic difficulties experienced by leaders or the gender based difficulties experienced by Gillard before completing a questionnaire on their attitudes to leadership and certain occupations. For male participants, those with high conformity to masculine norms showed a greater belief in their own leadership capabilities after reading about Gillard’s gender- based difficulties than when reading about generic difficulties, while low conforming men showed the opposite pattern. “This suggests that Gillard’s example provoked a defensive reporting of leadership capability consistent with research showing that women who succeed in traditionally male domains are often perceived to be threatening,”. Next phase of research is to see if these findings were specific to politics or whether the same findings would apply in other professions.

Electoral milestones for women

Australian Electoral Commission document examining electoral milestones for Australian women.

Seizing the initiative: Australian leaders in politics, workplaces and the community

Seizing the Initiative collates research about how women in Australia in the twentieth century have negotiated leadership not only in formal politics and political lobby groups, but also at work, in business, in communities and in religious and cultural arenas.

The more things change: Women, politics and the press in Australia by Cathy Jenkins

This paper analyses the press’ treatment of the first female MPs, members of cabinet and government leaders in the States, Territories and the Commonwealth.

3. USA

More Women Can Run: Gender and Pathways to the State Legislatures (2013)
Susan Carroll and Kira Sanbonmatsu
Analyses nationwide surveys of state legislators conducted by CAWP and challenges assumptions of a single model of candidate emergence with a relationally embedded model of candidacy. It reorients research on women’s election to office and offers strategies for political practitioners concerned about women’s political equality.

The Price of Power: Power Seeking and Backlash Against Female Politicians (2013)

Tyler G. Okimoto and Victoria L Brescoll

When female politicians are perceived to be power-seeking, voters react negatively with feelings of moral outrage.

Path-Breakers: How Does Women’s Political Participation Respond to Electoral Success? (2011)

Sonia Bhalotra, Irma Clots-Figueras and Lakshmi Iyer

Women’s electoral success leads to an increase in female candidacy in subsequent elections.

Powerful Women: Does Exposure Reduce Bias? (2009)

Lori Beaman, Raghabendra Chattopadhyay, Esther Duflo, Rohini Pande and Petia Topalova

Exposure to women leaders decreases gender bias and improves women’s future electoral prospects.

4. The EU

Power and gender (not politics specific)

Victoria L Brescoll, Erica Dawson and Eric Luis Uhlmann

Hard Won and Easily Lost: The Fragile Status of Leaders in Gender-Stereotype-Incongruent Occupations  (2010)

Men who are employed in jobs that are strongly associated with women, and vice versa, are more strongly penalized for making mistakes than those in positions associated with their own gender.

Who Takes the Floor and Why: Gender, Power, and Volubility in Organizations  (2009)

Victoria L Brescoll

Being in a position of power in a group increases the volubility of men, but not the volubility of women.

Global Gender Gap Report 2020

In 2020, the Global Gender Gap score (based on the popu- lation-weighted average) stands at 68.6%. This means that, on average, the gap is narrower, and the remaining gap to close is now 31.4%.

In the the Global Gender Gap Index 2020 rankings, Australia ranked 44 th and in Economic Participation and Opportunity we are ranked 49th. Read the full report.