Women

01.16.14

Aussie Women Less Politically Hopeful After Gillard’s Bad Press

Pelosi adds: money and meanness lead to fewer female politicians

One would assume that greater visibility of female political leaders would encourage women to run for office. But given the added—and many times uncalled-for—media scrutiny female political leaders face, women often see them as examples of why not to seek candidacy. A recent survey conducted by the University of Adelaide and YWCA reveals that Australian women are more hesitant to run for office after Prime Minister Julia Gillard's run-ins with bad press. According to the survey, 8 out of 10 women over the age of 31 are less likely to pursue a career in politics while 57 percent of women between 18 and 21 years old felt discouraged by the press surrounding Ms. Gillard. The women surveyed noted most negative reception was not based on the Ms. Gillard's policy decisions or leadership abilities, but on her style and appearance—a marked difference to the media reception afforded to her male peers. The findings echoed former House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi's response to The Shriver Report's statistics on the gap in female political leadership in the U.S. “If you reduce the role of money in politics and increase the level of civility in debate, more women will run for office,” Pelosi said. Just today, TIME Magazine released its latest cover featuring Hillary Clinton. The article chronicles Mrs. Clinton's apparently inevitable, although still unconfirmed, presidential ambitions, with cliche hallmarks of female political leadership: a pantsuit and a seemingly dangerous heeled shoe with a helpless man dangling behind. The social media response has been one of understandable outrage. This viral image of Clinton aboard a C-17 headed to Libya, sunglasses on and Blackberry in hand, better depicts unstoppable leadership, or at least one that women can actually aspire to.