Gender composition of Victorian Parliament

Women currently make up 39.8 per cent of Victoria’s Parliament – 77 men compared to 51 women.

Forty-four per cent of Labor MPs are women, compared to 28 per cent of the Coalition. The Australian Labor Party introduced gender quotas in 1994, in an attempt to have women pre-selected for at least 35% of winnable seats. The party have since increased that quota to 50 per cent by 2025.

The Greens MPs are mainly women - they have eight members and seven are women including party leader Samantha Ratnam.

The advancement of women elected to Victoria’s parliament has not been consistent; even though women were granted the right to contest elections in 1924, it wasn’t until 1933 that the first woman was elected. And between 1947 and 1967, there were no women members of the Victorian Parliament, mostly due to traditional gender roles being reinforced following the end of World War II.

After 1967, the proportion of women in parliament was less than four per cent until 1982, when numbers eventually – but slowly – started to rise. The biggest jump occurred at the 1996 election, which saw the proportion of women grow from 11.3 per cent to 17 per cent.

Gender equity in parliament is improving, but women are very under-represented in senior roles

Of the 21 state Labor Government Ministers, nine (42.8 per cent) are women.

The Victorian Coalition has 25 Shadow Ministers, 19 of whom are men and six whom are women (24 per cent). The Coalition currently has more male shadow ministers than it has female MPs.

The Coalition, at both state and federal level, has come under increasing external and internal pressure, recently over the lack of safe seats awarded to women candidates, and lack of senior roles once they are elected. Former Victorian Liberal Senator Judith Troeth has called for quotas to rectify the “abysmally low numbers” of Liberal women in parliament.

Eight Fellows of the University of Melbourne's Pathway to Politics program, which equips women from diverse backgrounds with the skills, networks and confidence they need to seek elected office at all levels of government, are running as candidates for the November 24 election.

These are:

  • Juliana Addison (ALP) – Wendouree District
  • Katie Allen (Liberal) – Prahran District
  • Gaelle Broad (Nationals) – Bendigo East District
  • Laura Chipp (Reason) – South-Eastern Metropolitan Region
  • Susanne Newton (Greens) – Preston District
  • Cindy O’Connor (ALP) – Brunswick District
  • Kat Theophanous (ALP) – Northcote District
  • Bridget Vallence (Liberal) – Evelyn District

Melbourne School of Government Assistant Director Avery Poole said three Fellows have already been elected to local government and several have challenged multiple elections since the non-partisan program was launched in 2015.

“It is fantastic to see the contribution our Fellows are making to address the under-representation of women in our political system and to see as many as eight of our Fellows running for seats across Victoria is an extremely uplifting sign what we are doing something right,” Dr Poole said.


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