Media Centre - Media release - 31st March 2021

Just one in ten Australian young women believe the culture in our nation’s Parliament is safe for women, and most want men to do better in calling out sexism

girls-in-politics

The vast majority of Australian young women do not believe the culture in Parliament House is safe for women, and would like Australian men to do better in calling out sexism.

On top of that, close to three quarters of young Australian women aged 18-21 do not believe that women in politics are treated equally to men (73%), rising to almost eight in ten (78%) among women aged 22 to 25, according to new data from Plan International Australia, the charity for girls equality.

The survey also found:

• Three quarters of young Australian women aged 18-21 do not believe that women involved in politics are treated equally to men (73%), rising to almost eight in ten among women aged between 22 to 25 years old (78%).

• This perception applies across the political spectrum, with 89% of young female Green voters, 77% of Labor voters and 71% of Coalition voters not believing that women involved in politics today are treated equally to men.

• Just one in ten Australian young women aged 18-25 believe that the work culture in Canberra is a safe environment for young women to work in (10%). Two thirds do not believe that the current work culture is safe (64%).

• Over half of young female Coalition voters do not believe that the current work culture in Canberra is safe for young women (54%).

• The vast majority of young women aged 18-25 have never considered or aspired to be Prime Minister (81%).

• While just over one in ten young women say that they would pursue a career in national politics (12%), almost three quarters (72%) say they would never want a career involved in politics.

• Almost a third (30%) say that both negative perceptions of the work culture in Canberra, and the accusations of misogyny in the Parliament holds them back from ever pursuing a career in politics.

• Three quarters of young women would like to see the HR processes in Canberra overhauled to allow independent reporting of harassment in order to make politics fairer and equal for all (73%).

• Seven in ten young women believe stronger action from men in calling out sexism is required to ensure that politics is fair and equal for all (72%).

The poll follows on from a 2017 report by Plan International Australia in which more than 2,000 Australian girls and young women were surveyed about their aspirations for the future. She Can Lead: Young people in Australia share their views on politics found that more than half of young women (56%) thought female politicians were treated unfairly by their male colleagues – and as this new poll shows, sadly, that perception has only worsened.

“The fact that this polling shows that only one in ten young women believe the work culture in our nation’s capital is safe for women in a shocking indictment on our country,” said Susanne Legena, CEO of Plan International Australia, the charity for girls equality.

“Girls should be growing up believing anything is possible, not being forced to choose between their leadership aspirations or their own safety.

“The impact is particularly worrying for girls in their teenage years, when they’re forming lasting perceptions about the world and their own role within it. They witness women being treated unfairly or subjected to abuse, and the message they hear is that politics isn’t a safe place for them.

“Enough is enough. If girls and young women can’t find an equal place in the country’s leadership, how can we expect them to find equality in the rest of life?
“This polling further shows that three quarters of young women aged 18-21 do not believe that women involved in politics are treated equally to men (73%), rising to almost eight in ten aged 22 to 25 years old.”

“Having worked as a staffer in Parliament House myself, I know first hand the misogynist, toxic culture of secrecy and cover up that exists in some parts of our nation’s Parliament – and it is a culture that must be swiftly and decisively changed.”

“Young women in particular know that everyone deserves the right to live and work in an environment free from harassment and violence.”

“It’s not just up to girls and young women to clean up the toxic culture in Parliament House. They need support from all of us to succeed. We must stand in solidarity with these incredible young people who are refusing to be consumed by despair and are sending a powerful message to our political leaders that inaction will not be tolerated.”

“The polling also shows that seven in ten young women from all political perspectives want men to do better in calling out sexism. It is time for men in the Australian Parliament, including the Prime Minister himself, to listen to the voices of Australia’s young women and fix the culture in our Parliament now.”

For interviews please contact Plan International Australia media and ambassador manager James Norman on 0451291775 or public relations advisor Claire Knox on 0452326549

About the polling

YouGov conducted this poll with a politically representative national online sample of 507 female Australian citizens aged 18-25 in both city and regional areas between 23-29 March 2021. The theoretical margin of error on a sample of this size is ±4.3 percentage points. Due to rounding, totals for results may not add to 100.

Media contacts

James Norman

Media & Ambassador Manager
+61 451 291 775

Claire Knox

Public Relations Advisor
+61 452 326 549

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