Gender and the Australian parliament

Crawford, Mary Catherine (2008) Gender and the Australian parliament. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


This dissertation by publication which focuses on gender and the Australian federal parliament has resulted in the submission of three refereed journal articles. Data for the study were obtained from 30 semi-structured interviews undertaken in 2006 with fifteen (15) male and fifteen (15) female members of the Australian parliament. The first of the articles is methodological and has been accepted for publication in the Australian Journal of Political Science. The paper argues that feminist political science is guided by five important principles. These are placing gender at the centre of the research, giving emphasis to women’s voice, challenging the public/private divide, using research to transform society and taking a reflexive approach to positionality. It is the latter principle, that of the importance of taking a reflexive approach to research which I explore in the paper. Through drawing on my own experiences as a member of the House of Representatives (Forde 1987-1996) I reflexively investigate the intersections between my background and my identity as a researcher. The second of the articles views the data through the lens of Acker’s (1990) notion of the ‘gendered organization’ which posits that there are four dimensions by which organizations are gendered. These are via the division of labour, through symbols, images and ideologies, by workplace interactions and through the gendered components of individual identity. In this paper which has been submitted to the British Journal of Political Science, each of Acker’s (1990) dimensions is examined in terms of the data from interviews with male and female politicians. The central question investigated is thus to what extent does the Australian parliament conform to Acker’s (1990) concept of the ‘gendered organization’? The third of the papers focuses specifically on data from interviews with the 15 male politicians and investigates how they view gender equality and the Australian parliament. The article, which has been submitted to the European Journal of Political Science asks to what extent contemporary male politicians view the Australian parliament as gendered? Discourse analysis that is ‘ways of viewing’ (Bacchi, 1999, p. 40) is used as an approach to analyse the data. Three discursive frameworks by which male politicians view gender in the Australian parliament are identified. These are: that the parliament is gendered as masculine but this is unavoidable; that the parliament is gendered as feminine and women are actually advantaged; and that the parliament is gender neutral and gender is irrelevant. It is argued that collectively these framing devices operate to mask the many constraints which exist to marginalise women from political participation and undermine attempts to address women’s political disadvantage as political participants. The article concludes by highlighting the significance of the paper beyond the Australian context and calling for further research which names and critiques political men and their discourses on gender and parliamentary practices and processes.

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ID Code: 26409
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD)
Supervisor: Pini, Barbara, Parker, Rachel, & Ryan, Neal
Keywords: gender, parliament, Australia, reflexivity, masculinity
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > QUT Business School
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 20 Jul 2009 02:50
Last Modified: 15 Apr 2015 07:18

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