An analysis on Gender and Leadership (Australia)

Published: 14/01/2014

Considerations for Australia’s next Woman Prime Minister

Monday, 16 December 2013. Posted in ACLW.

So that Australia will have a woman Prime Minister sooner rather than later, the E-book, Considerations for Australia’s next woman Prime Minister by Dr Diann Rodgers-Healey presents an analysis on issues to do with gender and leadership based on a reflective, interpretive and explorative stance of Julia Gillard’s Prime Ministership.

17 leading Australian women accepted an invitation to respond to questions to do with gender and leadership issues reflected in the discourse during Gillard’s Prime Ministership. The women are:

Kathy Bensted, National President of the Australian Local Government Women’s Association, business owner; Chairs the 5050Vision – Councils for Gender Equity Committee.

Emerita Professor Chilla Bulbeck,  University of Adelaide in Gender Studies and Social Analysis

Dr Leslie Cannold, Ethicist and Social Researcher

Jane Caro, Author, Journalist, Lecturer, Advertising Writer and Media Commentator

Maria Delaney, Researcher, Writer, Speaker and Education Consultant

Michelle Deshong, Fellow with the Australian Rural Leadership Foundation, an accredited Trainer and facilitator, PhD student

Maria Dimopoulos, Diversity Specialist, Managing Director of MyriaD Consultants

Dr Lynette Dumble, Founder of the Global Sisterhood Network; fmr visiting Professor of Surgery at the Universities of Oklahoma, Illinois and Texas; fmr senior lecturer at the University of Melbourne

Kirsty McLaren, PhD Student at the Australian National University, Research Associate with the Mapping the Australian Women’s Movement project

Professor Barbara Pocock, Inaugural Director of the Centre for Work + Life, at the University of South Australia

Georgia Prattis, Diversity Specialist, Senior Parnter in MyriaD Consultants

Professor Shirley Randel, International Consultant in Gender Equality and Women’s Advancement

Margaret Reynolds, Chair of the Advisory Board of the Centre of Excellence in Local Government, fmr Federal Minister (1987-1990) assisting the Prime Minister on the Status of Women and Minister for Local Government, fmr Tasmanian Manager for National Disability Services

Christina Ryan, General Manager of Advocacy for Inclusion

Natasha Stott Despoja, Founding Chairperson of the Foundation to Prevent Violence Against Women and their Children, Deputy Chair of beyondblue, fmr Senator for South Australia (1995-2008) and fmr Leader of the Australian Democrats

Professor Margaret Thornton, Professor of Law and ANU Public Policy Fellow at the Australian National University, Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia and a Foundation Fellow of the Australian Academy of Law

Nareen Young, CEO of Diversity Council Australia


Employing a qualitative research framework to analyse their views, this E-book brings to the fore key considerations from an engaged and experienced group of women leaders from diverse professional backgrounds.

The first chapter is the author’s attempt to interpret the Prime Ministership of Gillard from a gender and leadership perspective. It includes relating theory to what was experienced to enable an understanding of the ideological forces that constrain the full participation and recognition of women as leaders. Chapter 2 presents the complete and unedited emailed responses of the 17 women leaders. Chapter 3 presents the results of an Inductive Content Analysis which was applied to the responses for the 5 questions.

The overall conclusions inform and justify poignant considerations for Australia as a nation and for the next woman Prime Minister in Australia.


“This book is a readable and useful contribution to the still raw and open debate on the meaning of the demise of our first woman PM. There is wide agreement that  Australia doesn’t deal well with powerful women, but no united views on what can be done.  Diann has elicited diverse suggestions from a wide range of leading women on where to from here, but obviously the debates need to continue!” 

Eva Cox AO, Sociologist, Feminist, Activist and Professorial Fellow, University of Technology, Sydney

“Diann’s book, and the views of the women included, shed light on the notion that Australia still needs to move forward  to the point of being an egalitarian nation, the land of the ‘fair go’.  Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and women in particular, know that prejudice is still embedded in many of our national structures and attitudes.  The experience of Julia Gillard as our first female Prime Minister exposed a prevailing culture of antagonism towards women in leadership positions.  Our communities recognised this in their call for the new national representative body for First Peoples to ensure the representation of women at our highest levels.  Congress has answered that call and we are proudly the only company in the nation with gender equity embedded in our constitution and structure.  I hope that as a nation we can move to a point where we are all acknowledged on our merits, on who we are, and the fact we’ve earned the right to be elected, and no longer on our gender, or the colour of our skin”.

Lindon Coombes, Chief Executive Officer, National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples

“This book is powerful and timely. Julia Gillard’s situation represented the perfect storm of gender, within party leadership challenges and twenty four hour media cycles. Through making sense of what has happened, Diann is able to not just anticipate what may happen, but provide recommendations to future women leaders, be they prime ministers or in other senior roles. This book is recommended to women and men, mature and young who are interested in thoughtful constructive dialogue regarding leadership, gender and the future of Australian political life more broadly”. 

Assoc. Professor Lindsay G Oades, Director, Australian Institute of Business Wellbeing, Faculty of Business, University of Wollongong