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QUT Pathways to Politics for Women

In Australia, women are under-represented across all levels of government, business, civil society and  positions of influence. Despite their proven ability as leaders and their right to participate equally in democratic governance, women still face many obstacles to participating in political life.

QUT's Pathways to Politics for Women program is open to female graduates from any Queensland university and aims to inspire and empower participants to lead our country into the future.

Only 24%

of members of parliament worldwide are women. (Source: Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), 'Women in national parliaments', November 2018)


of members of parliament in Australia are women. (Source: Australian Electoral Commission (AEC), 2019 Federal Election)


Australia’s world ranking for parliamentary gender diversity, in 2018. (Source: The Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), January 2019)

Set the agenda, lead the conversation

As the only program of its kind in Queensland, QUT's Pathways to Politics for Women is a nonpartisan initiative that seeks to increase female participation in all levels of government by equipping women with the skills to succeed in being elected to public office, and to thrive as political leaders.

The program is designed to provide participants with the networks, training and support required to advance their political career.

What you'll learn

The program aims to provide women the opportunity to gain the skills and networks to reach elected office at local, state and national levels. These skills include:

  • understanding politics
  • articulating your personal leadership vision
  • developing resilience
  • building your base
  • speech writing
  • media training
  • understanding policy making
  • campaigning.

Who should attend?

This program has been designed to benefit women who aspire to elected office. Female graduates from any Queensland university are encouraged to apply.

Program overview

The program comprises four modules which include face-to-face workshops and online resources. Each workshop is structured around hands-on training and networking, including panels and conversation sessions with women elected to office in local, state and federal government.

The program features guest presenters from across the political spectrum including politicians (both sitting and retired), pollsters, public speaking professionals, campaign strategists, advisors, public policy experts, and leading figures in Australian political and public life.

2020 program outline

Module 1: Understanding your political career

  • Introduction to Politics
  • Party machines

Module 2: Preparing to run

  • Building your base
  • Moral dilemmas in politics

Module 3: Becoming the strongest candidate

Part 1:
  • From political vision to stump speech
  • Media training
Part 2:
  • Policy-making
  • Campaign tools

Module 4: Getting elected

  • Speeches in Parliament
  • Life in Federal Parliament

Eligibility guidelines

To be eligible for the program you must be an Australian or New Zealand citizen, an Australian permanent resident, or the holder of a permanent humanitarian visa, and have completed an undergraduate or postgraduate degree at any Queensland university.

Participants will be selected on a competitive bases against the following criteria:

Selection criteria

  • Commitment to seeking elected office.
  • Leadership experience.
  • Professional and life experience.
  • Political engagement.
  • Ability to tell your story in a compelling way.

We're committed to minimising barriers and broadening access to development opportunities. We'll consider the following equity criteria over and above the general eligibility requirements for the program:

  • recognition as an Indigenous Australian
  • coming from a rural or isolated area
  • previous status as a refugee or current holder of a humanitarian visa
  • disadvantaged socio-economic circumstances
  • disability or chronic medical condition
  • difficult personal circumstances.


The program is free for the selected participants.

Participants must attend the program in person. You must pay for any flights, ground transfers, accommodation, and other fees associated with attending the program. Meals will be provided during each session.

Advisory committee

Hon Mary Crawford

From 1994-1996 Mary was the Parliamentary Secretary to the Deputy Prime Minister with responsibility for Local Government. Mary was awarded her PhD in 2008 for work on gender and the Australian Parliament, where she explored the way in which the Australian parliament is gendered as male but much of its processes and practices remain hidden.

Ufficiale Hon Teresa Gambaro

Teresa Gambaro was an accomplished local business woman before entering Parliament in 1996. After more than 17 years of parliamentary service, Teresa resigned in 2016. Ms Gambaro currently works with local groups, curch based associations and the non-government sector to promote conditions of sustainable human development in which people are able to enjoy a full range of human rights, fulfill their needs free from poverty and live in dignity.

Hon Linda Lavarch

Linda Lavarch is a former Australian politician and solicitor. She was a Labor Party member of the Legislative Assembly of Queensland from 1997-2009. In 2005 Linda was appointed Queensland's Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, the first woman Attorney-General in Queensland. Prior to being appointed Attorney-General, she held the position of parliamentary secretary to the Minister for Energy and Aboriginal and Minister for Torres Strait Islander Policy. Retiring from state politics in 2009, Linda became involved in medical research and the not-for-profit sector, chairing the Not-For-Profit Sector Reform Council.

Ms Sarah Buckley, Executive Officer, Trawalla Foundation

Sarah brings fifteen years of leadership experience in the corporate and not-for-profit sectors, focused on social innovation and investment. Sarah was previously Consulting Director at PwC Australia and GM at Opportunity Child. Alongside her work for Trawalla Foundation, Sarah consults to a range of campaigns and social sector organisations. Current advisory board roles include People Measures, Reach Enterprises and SVA's Diversified Impact Fund.

Professor Robina Xavier, Executive Dean, QUT Business School

Professor Robina Xavier is Executive Dean of the QUT Business School and brings more than 20 years experience in the tertiary sector to the university. She has received state and national awards for her work in public relations practice and research and has published in national and international journals. Robina has sat on a number of government advisory groups, is a former National President of the peak industry body, the Public Relations Institute of Australia and is a former chair of the industry's National Education Committee, which overseas accreditation of Australian university programs.

Associate Professor Vicky Browning, Director Client Programs, QUTeX

Associate Professor Vicky Browning leads QUT's client award and professional development programs and the corporate programs offered by QUTeX. She is a psychologist and executive coach and has taught leadership and organisational behaviour in the MBA and client programs at QUT, University of Otago and the Graduate School of Business, University of Cape Town. Vicky is responsible for the women in business initiatives for QUT Business School including the UN Women sponsorship, and she chaired the Equity Committee from 2015-2017.

About the program

The QUT Pathways to Politics for Women is an independent program run by QUT. It is modelled on the 'Pathways to Politics Program for Women' run by the Melbourne School of Government under a partnership between the Women’s Leadership Institute Australia, Trawalla Foundation and the University of Melbourne, which also aims to redress the lack of representation of women in Australian politics. QUT is grateful for the assistance provided by Trawalla and the University of Melbourne in developing the Queensland program. Both programs were designed with reference to Harvard University’s 'From Harvard Square to the Oval Office' practicum.

Support the program

The QUT Pathways to Politics program is offered for free to selected participants thanks to the support of our generous donors.

We rely on our supporters to ensure that there are no financial barriers to participation. Your gift will help to increase female representation in all levels of government.

Give to QUT Pathways to Politics for Women


Applications will open soon.

For more information about this program, or to be notified when applications open, email

Or submit an enquiry and we'll be in touch soon.