There Are More Women Than Ever In Parliament, But That's Still Not That Many

    But less than 1 in 5 Coalition politicians are women.

    The 45th Parliament has made Australian history by electing a record 73 women.

    Stefan Postles / Getty Images

    But despite prime minister Malcolm Turnbull’s declaration that “women hold up half the sky”, women won’t be holding up half of federal parliament. They'll barely represent one third.

    With the senate votes finally tallied from the July 2 election, 73 women and 153 men have won seats in Australia’s house of democracy.

    Women now make up 32% of Australia's federal politicians.


    The 45th Parliament has four more women than the last one, and six more than 2010.

    43* women out of a possible 150 have won seats in the house of representatives, and 30 out of a possible 76 have been elected to the senate.


    The Coalition’s female representation in the house of representatives has fallen from 18 to 13, compared to 63 men.

    That's right: there are just 13 women out of 76 Liberal/National MPs.

    Labor’s female representation has increased from 21 to 27, with 41 men.

    With the addition of two female crossbenchers, Cathy McGowan and Xenophon's Rebekah Sharkey, the percentage of women in the lower house has increased from 26.7 to 28.6%.

    In the senate, Labor women outnumber men 14 to 12, and the Greens have five women to four men.

    The Coalition has eight women in the senate and 22 men, that’s the same number as before the double dissolution election.

    Three crossbenchers have helped raise the percentage of women in the senate from 30.5 to 32%.

    * This figure accounts for Labor’s Cathy O’Toole winning the North Queensland seat of Herbert.

    Less than one in five of the Coalition's elected representatives are women.


    There are only 21 Coalition women to 85 men, meaning women make up 19.8% of their party.

    Labor have the most women in parliament with 42 to 53 men and the Greens have parity - 5 women to 5 men.

    Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has been accused of having a Tony Abbbott-esque problem with women, after he appointed only 10 women to his ministerial team of 42.


    Queensland has the lowest representation of any state, with women winning nine out of 42 seats.


    The ACT has 50-50 females to males in parliament, that's the highest percentage of women (but the equal lowest number of seats).

    This year’s result takes the total number of women elected to Australian Parliament throughout history to 206 - 114 in the house of representatives and 92 in the senate.

    One place female representation has increased is on the senate crossbench.

    After the 2013 election the senate crossbench was comprised of seven men (Nick Xenophon, Bob Day, David Leyonhjelm, John Madigan, Glenn Lazarus, Dio Wang, Ricky Muir) and one woman: Jacqui Lambie.

    The new "gridlock" crossbench of 11 includes three women - Jacqui Lambie, Skye Kakoschke-Moore (Nick Xenophon Team) and Pauline Hanson (One Nation).

    Meaning women control 27.2% of the balance of power in the Senate.

    With less than one third of parliament made up of women, Australia is hovering very close to what the United Nations regards as the 30% “critical mass” - the minimum level necessary for females to influence decision-making in parliament.

    Lukas Coch / AAPIMAGE

    In April, the federal executive of the Liberal party agreed to set a target of 50% female MPs by 2025. Labor agreed to the same goal at its national conference last year.

    But that hasn’t appeared to have any effect in reality.

    Seven Coalition women retired at the 2016 election and six of their seats were taken by men.

    Liberal senator Linda Reynolds says the party won’t introduce quotas for female representation because they’re a “quick fix”.

    These numbers put Australia’s ranking in the world for representation of women in parliament at 49th.

    Denyse Uwera Kamugwiza / AP

    Data from the International Parliamentary Union shows only two countries in the world have more women than men in their parliaments.

    Rwanda has the most female representation in the world at 63.8% - that’s 51 out of 80 lower house seats.

    Followed by Bolivia with 53.1%, or 69 out of 130 seats.

    Australia was previously ranked #56. We've now leapfrogged Vietnam, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Poland, Afghanistan and Luxembourg to #49th.

    But that still ranks us behind the United Kingdom, Nepal, Sudan, Trinidad and Tobago, Cameroon, Tunisia, New Zealand, Zimbabwe, Algeria, Macedonia, Uganda, Serbia, East Timor, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Mexico, Senegal and Cuba.

    Alice Workman is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Canberra.

    Contact Alice Workman at

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