Australia - record numbers stood for election but...

Post election we report on gender balance in the new parliament

This is part of an earlier article in the Huffington Post magazine:

This Saturday, as you stroll past the sausage sizzle into your local polling station, consider the ubiquitous corflute posters outside the venue. How many of the faces plastered on every surface are women? Then have a look at the people around you. Spot any women? Not hard, is it? In this election, women will be the majority (just over 51 percent) of those wielding the mighty pencils of democracy. Despite this, they will make up just one third of candidates on your ballot papers.
When it comes to the issues, pundits are observing that women are increasingly engaged in this election. We know from the ABC Vote Compass that women tend to have stronger opinions and views on the issues of the day than men.
And yet as this election campaign staggers to a close, we can say that gender equality and issues which matter to women have been largely absent. Why?
Overall, women make up just 33 percent of candidates for both the Senate and House of Representatives.
The proportion of women candidates standing for election in the lower house is the highest in history and, as a result, it is expected that a record number of women will be elected. This is good when we measure progress against what's been achieved previously, but less impressive when we measure it against what we need. More than anything, this new record demonstrates the glacial rate at which our Parliament comes to grips with the population it is apparently representing.
Of course, when it comes to increasing the number of women in Parliament, increasing the number of women running is the start. Women need to be in winnable positions. The Women's Electoral Lobby have analysed where women are positioned on the ballot for the Senate (where women have enjoyed higher rates of representation) for 2016. WEL has found that while women are 36 percent of overall Senate candidates, they are only 32 percent of candidates ranked first on the ballot.