Gender Inequality Persists in Local Government Elections

Male candidates significantly outnumber women in up-coming elections, female councillors say bullying could be why.

Cr. Coral Ross says bullying is a problem for women in local government
Cr. Coral Ross says bullying is a problem for women in local government

Only 33 per cent of candidates in this month’s local government elections are women, according to statistics by the Victorian Local Governance Association (VLGA.)

Cr. Coral Ross, president of the Australian Local Government Women’s Association (ALGWA) in Victoria and member for Gardiner, says harassment in the workplace is partly to blame for many women’s reluctance to stand.

“There are a lot of women who I know that are bullied,” she said.

“They’ve just decided that they’ve had enough.”

A 2009 report by ALGWA shows that 45% of females in local council found harassment, bullying and sexist remarks to be a “primary concern” in the workplace, with 65% being excluded from informal decision making.

While ALGWA has worked since then to try and change these attitudes, Cr. Ross says there hasn’t been much improvement.

“There needs to be a cultural shift,” she said.

Currently, women make up 29 per cent of all elected councillors in Victoria.

Meghan Hopper is running for election in Moreland, where 5 out of eleven councillors last term were women.

She says she prides her ward on its “great, diverse mixture of communities.”

“It’s important that we’re voting for more progressive women, to continue to fill that voice on council,” she said.

Council elections will take place on October 27th.

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