The History and Impact of Women in the Parliament of Western Australia: From Golden Age to Disappointment

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Abstract

Despite their significant and valuable contributions to parliament and the broader Western Australian (WA) community, the role of women in the WA public sphere has historically been overlooked due to cultural biases and structural prejudice. Moreover, although certain overt restrictions to women’s participation in parliamentary politics have weakened, substantial discriminatory practices continue to restrict women’s capacity to engage in the public management of WA on an equal basis. To remedy this historical erasure, this paper identifies three distinct phases of women’s engagement with—and impact on—the Parliament of Western Australia. The first is the “age of individuals” where a select few pioneering women were able to enter the parliament due to a variety of historical specificities. A new age of optimism was ushered in with the Burke government of the 1980s when the Labor Party adopted affirmative action policies and saw a significant increase in women MPs. This was then followed by an age of diminished expectations with the advent of the 1990s when women’s policy was deprioritised.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAustralian Feminist Studies
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2023

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