Women parliamentarians in Australia 1921–2012

Women Elections Political parties Sex differences Australia

This paper provides details on women elected to Australian parliaments since 1921, in chronological order of election.

This publication updates work published by David Black in 1966 under the title Women parliamentarians in Australia 1921–1996: a register of women members of Commonwealth, State and Territory Parliaments in Australia. Professor Black provided electronic copies of his files to facilitate updating the records and has assisted with advice.

Part 1 consists of tables listing, by parliament, the women elected since 1921, in chronological order of election. The tables include:

  • their age at taking their seats
  • their party affiliation
  • the names of the electoral districts they represented
  • their dates of service, and
  • the way in which their period of service ended; whether they were defeated, retired, resigned, disqualified or died.

Part 2 includes lists of the women by the date of their election in 13 time periods: ten year periods from 1921 to 1969, and five year periods since 1970. The lists are followed by tables summarising the numbers elected since 1921 and the changing percentage of representation since 1970.

The date given for a member entering parliament is the date of the election; where this differs from the commencement of the parliamentary term this date is also given, either in parentheses immediately following the date of election or as otherwise indicated. Because there is such variation between the parliaments regarding the date on which a member’s term ceases, the date of the end of the parliamentary term in this publication, except for premature resignation or death, is the date of the ensuing general election.

Where a given name is bolded or added in parentheses this indicates the name preferred by the member concerned. The designation ‘Dame’ in brackets indicates that the title was awarded some time after the member’s initial entry to parliament.

The sources used to compile the lists were mainly parliamentary handbooks and websites, but other biographical sources were used to fill in some gaps. Each of the state and territory parliamentary libraries provided invaluable assistance in supplying elusive details and in checking the tables, and without their cooperation this project would not have been possible.

In 1996 Professor Black listed 303 individual women; the number has now grown to 634.

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