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.

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.

Download the brochure (PDF file, 883.8 KB)

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.

See what past participants have said about the program

Who should attend?

This program has been designed to benefit women who aspire to elected office. QUT's Pathways to Politics for Women program is open to female graduates from a Queensland university and aims to inspire and empower participants to lead our country into the future.

Program overview

The program comprises four modules which each include a face-to-face workshop 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.

Guest presenters from across the political spectrum feature throughout the program, 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.

The program is delivered over three months through an online learning portal, 3 virtual classrooms, and three 2-day workshops at the Executive Education Centre on the QUT Gardens Point Campus in Brisbane. Participants will also be provided the opportunity for executive coaching and the development of a personal leadership development plan.

2021 program outline

Module 1: Understanding your political career

  • Understanding politics
    • Reflections on political culture
    • Making the decision to run
    • Creating your story - how to articulate your political vision and why does it matter?
  • Party machines
    • Understanding political parties
    • The practicalities of party politics

Module 2: Preparing to run

  • Building your base
    • Building institutional and personal networks
    • Fundraising
  • Moral dilemmas in politics
    • The responsibilities that come with political leadership
    • Maintaining your political vision in the face of ethical and political challenges
  • Leadership insights
    • Creating your personal leadership vision
    • Understanding your leadership strengths and challenges

Module 3: Becoming the strongest candidate

  • From political vision to stump speech
    • Transforming your political vision into a speech
    • Presenting with impact
  • Media training
    • How to deal with the media
    • Using social media to support your campaign
  • Policy making
    • Understanding the policy making process
    • Identifying ways policy making could be improved
  • Campaign tools
    • Campaign strategies

Module 4: Getting elected

  • Speeches in Parliament
    • Delivering your stump speech in parliament
  • Life in 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 and/or postgraduate degree at a Queensland university.

Participants will be selected on a competitive basis 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.


Participation in this program is supported for successful applicants, courtesy of our valued program sponsors and donors.

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 has an extensive career portfolio across both the private and public sectors. Her consulting services are sought after by corporate boards, private corporations, non-Government organisations, entrepreneur start-ups and community groups. In her nearly two-decade career as Federal Member of Parliament she's worked with Governments across Europe, Asia and the Pacific. Teresa brings to the table senior level network and business relationships within both Federal and State Governments, the International and Australian business community and key industry associations.

Mrs 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, Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Vice-President (Education), QUT

Professor Xavier has more than 25 years’ experience in the tertiary sector including serving as Executive Dean, QUT Business School. Her doctoral studies were in crisis management. 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 oversees accreditation of Australian university programs.

Professor Vicky Browning, Director Client Programs and Learning Innovation, QUTeX

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.

Acknowledgement of program history

Pathways to Politics Program for Women Queensland is part of a national network of independent programs based at Australian universities modelled on the Pathways to Politics Program for Women, which was launched by the University of Melbourne in 2016 in partnership with the Women’s Leadership Institute Australia, and Trawalla Foundation.

The foundation University of Melbourne program was developed in consultation with the Women and Public Policy Program at the Harvard Kennedy School with reference to their long-running “From Harvard Square to the Oval Office” practicum, to redress the underrepresentation of women in Australian politics. Now in its sixth year, the University of Melbourne program has achieved remarkable success, with 13 program alumnae elected across local, state and federal government in five years.

We are grateful for the assistance of the University of Melbourne and the Trawalla Foundation in developing the Queensland program. A similar independent program, also modelled on the University of Melbourne program, was launched by UNSW in 2021 for women in NSW. Pathways to Politics for Women was featured in these articles in The Age and The Guardian in 2020.

'The Pathways to Politics Program for Women armed me with the skills, understanding and support to run for Parliament. I was undertaking the program during the preselection process in 2017, and it made such a difference to have so many women encouraging me to stand.

Throughout the election campaign, the program gave me the confidence and self-belief to know that with hard work and determination I could win.'

Juliana Addison, University of Melbourne Pathway to Politics Program alumni

Support the program

The costs of participating in the QUT Pathways to Politics for Women program are waived for our participants, thanks to the support of our generous donors.

Your gift will ensure that there are no financial barriers to participation and will help increase diverse female representation in all levels of government.

Give to QUT Pathways to Politics for Women

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