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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.

Applications for 2020 now open

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.

2020 Applications open 9 September 2019.

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 holding an undergraduate and/or postgraduate degree from a 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

  • 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

The program is delivered over three months (February - April 2020) through an online learning portal, and two 2-day workshops and one 1-day workshop at the Executive Education Center 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.

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.


The program is free for the selected participants.

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.

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.

Professor Vicky Browning, Director Client Programs, 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.

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

Get in touch

For more information about this program, please email, call (07) 3138 7733 or complete the enquiry form below.