Representation in parliament


Theme: Cohesive
Dimension: Trust in institutions


Proportion of federal Australian parliamentarians who are women

Why does this matter

Public institutions must be representative of the Australian community they serve if trust in them is to be maintained and grown. One indicator of adequate representation in politics, is the share of women parliamentarians.

Has there been progress

The number of federal women parliamentarians as a share of total filled seats (lower/single house of parliament) has improved from 25.3 per cent to 39.1 per cent between 2002 to 2023 — higher than the OECD average of 33.8 per cent in 2023.1 In the same period, representation of women parliamentarians in the Senate has been higher than the lower house — which sits at 57.3 per cent in May 2023.

Despite the recent rise in women parliamentarians in 2023, Australia still lags behind similar countries like Canada and New Zealand in the cultural diversity of parliamentarians.

While there has been an increase in First Nations people since 2002 (0.4 per cent to 4.8 per cent) and LGBTIQA+ people (0 per cent to 3.5 per cent) in federal parliament, there is still an under representation for those with non-European ancestry.2

1 Commonwealth parliamentary library (2023) ‘Gender composition in Australian parliaments by party and chamber: As at 1 May 2023’, Gender composition of Australian parliaments by party: a quick guide, accessed 3 July 2023; (OECD) Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, (2023) Women in politics (indicator), accessed 10 July 2023.

2 Think tank percapita published a comparative research study on Federal parliamentarians cultural diversity, gender, and a number of other demographics in 2019 (covering 1988 and 2018) and 2022 (covering 2018 and 2021).

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