The current cohort of female politicians in the House of Representatives were more likely to advocate for their local areas, made more speeches and asked fewer questions than their male counterparts.
However, the number of women in parliament is so low that it’s difficult to draw conclusions about how gender affected political performance in the current term.
UniPollWatch’s House:Divided project has examined the political performance of all 150 House of Representatives members across 166 sitting days ranging from the beginning of the current term (November 12, 2013) until January 1, 2016.
As well as ranking individual politicians on their parliamentary performance, the project, conducted by Bond University journalism students, also used demographic and other data to look for trends.
Women only held 40 of the 150 House of Representatives seats (29%) in the current parliament; this number is so low that most relationships between gender and parliamentary performance are not statistically significant.
That is, the following information is true for the current parliament, but cannot be generalised to politicians more broadly.
Between 2013 and end-2015, there were no gender differences related to politicians’ age, the number of terms in office or social media use.
But women delivered more local issues speeches (a mean of 58 speeches, compared with the male mean of 32) and more overall speeches (female mean of 192, compared with male mean of 133).
Male politicians asked more questions (a male mean of 30, compared with female mean of 11).