Alexandra Tselios

About Alexandra Tselios

Founder and CEO of The Big Smoke, Alexandra oversees the leading digital content platform in both Australia and the USA. As a social and technology commentator, she is interviewed most days of the week on radio and appears on ABC's The Drum and ABC News24. Alexandra is also a Director of NFP think tank, Plus61J, which explores the political and social ties between Australia and Israel; and sits on the board of Estate-Planning FinTech start-up NowSorted.

S&M: What we actually need in a female Liberal MP

Last night I stood next to a man who said to me, “It’s great that there are no major female players in Australian politics right now – Gillard, Keneally, Bligh and Kirner all failed this country miserably.”

While I was disinterested in sharing the same breathing space with such a stupid man, regardless of my political views on each of those women, I was bitterly disappointed that I couldn’t really say much more than, “But we have Julie Bishop…”

The swift yet slightly anticipated demise of Barry O’Farrell has now given way for Mike Baird to step into the role unopposed. This decision led Independent Alex Greenwich to remark on the lack of Premiers actually elected by the people, in comparison to the leadership of Lord Mayor Clover Moore.

At the risk of upsetting many of my friends and colleagues, no, I admit I was not a huge Julia Gillard supporter. Yet I don’t get emotional about the fact I didn’t agree with all her views. I respected her and the time she spent in office, agreed with some of her party’s changes and was happy to see a female Prime Minister in power, even if how she got there was a bit murky. Am I the only person slightly disappointed that Community Services Minister Pru Goward removed herself from the running and in Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian missing out?

Regardless of your political persuasion, I wanted a female to take NSW on again. While there is the argument that the Coalition government had to make a quick decision to ensure governance consistency, I simply believe it was a missed opportunity and it is time for a female Liberal MP to take the reins as premier of NSW.

With  just one woman in cabinet, this would have been  a grand opportunity for the coalition to shift the imbalance of women among the ranks of senior leadership. Sure, we would still need to contend with some of Abbott’s other recent decisions, which I don’t even want to talk about, but surely we would see a physical manifestation of the actual need he has for some of the women around him – especially considering the level of guidance he apparently requires from Peta Credlin.

While I still am undecided if gender quotas actually work, I do believe that I am looking for something in a female Liberal MP that seems to be lacking at the moment. Think back to the now famous Heidi vs Howard Harvard Business case study, when a case study with Venture Capitalist Heidi’s was given to one class, and the exact same CV and outline of accomplishments were given to a separate class under the alias Howard. Result? Those given “Howard’s” CV applauded his business savvy, while those given Heidi’s said she sounded selfish – yet it was the same person.

I am always disheartened by the data correlating the likeability for women with the same drive and traits as their male counterparts with such negative reception. I cringe over anyone playing the gender card, but quite frankly, it astounds me that the strength I admire in many women is despised by the general public, even in 2014.  I need to see someone who is capable and willing to step up, effectively tackle outdated pre-selection processes and fight for her place on our political stage. Who is socially progressive enough to make core decisions based on the needs of what is best for our country and not on their own personal, particularly religious, bias. A woman who is able to act as a leader in the Liberal party, cultivate party unity, understand the strengths that this country has to offer in the global marketplace, yet still be received by the public as both strong and as actually having an intelligent sense of humour.

I am still waiting.

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