Male, stale and pale? Gender representation in metropolitan local government in Western Australia

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference paperConference paperpeer-review


This paper explores the historical and contemporary socio-spatial patterns of political representation across the various local government areas within the Perth metropolitan region. In particular, analysis is focused on the gendered composition of (i) candidates who stand for local government elections; (ii) those elected as local councillors; and (iii) those who hold the highest office of authority – the mayorship – within local government. As the level of government often claimed to be ‘closest to the people’ it might be assumed that local government would be fairly representative of the people it serves. The data however points to a much different story. Put simply, there is a significant gap in the gender representativeness of local councils in metropolitan Perth (and other Australian metropolitan centres) with women under-represented at all stages (candidate-elected member-mayor) of the local democratic process. In short, local government can be caricatured as being ‘male, pale and stale’ to reflect the dominant gendered, ethnic/racial and age profile of locally elected officials. The paper goes on to consider the primary factors explaining the (prolonged) under-representation of women, and other groups, and what this means in terms of policymaking at the local government level. Finally, some discussion on what steps could be taken to enhance the representativeness of women are outlined.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationState of Australian Cities Conference 2017
Place of PublicationAustralia
PublisherState of Australian Cities Research Network
Publication statusPublished - 2018
Event8th State of Australian Cities National Conference 2017 - Adelaide, Australia
Duration: 28 Nov 201730 Nov 2017
Conference number: 8


Conference8th State of Australian Cities National Conference 2017
Abbreviated titleSOAC


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