Misogyny in politics a myth, says female candidate

NO FLAK: The Liberal National candidate for the seat of Blair, Teresa Harding, says she hasn’t seen any signs of sexism in politics.
NO FLAK: The Liberal National candidate for the seat of Blair, Teresa Harding, says she hasn’t seen any signs of sexism in politics. Claudia Baxter

COALITION candidate for Blair Teresa Harding says Julia Gillard was judged harshly not because she's a woman but because she's a bad politician.

In her concession speech this week, Ms Gillard spoke of the role her gender played in being PM.

"The reaction to being the first female prime minister does not explain everything about my prime ministership, nor does it explain nothing about my prime ministership," she said.

Feminist author Anne Summers said Ms Gillard was "treated appallingly in many ways because she was a woman".

But Mrs Harding, who is challenging Shayne Neumann for the seat of Blair, disagreed and said, in her short time in politics, she had seen no signs of sexism.

"I challenge the view that Julia Gillard was judged harshly because she is a woman," Mrs Harding said.

"I think she was being judged on her lack of integrity, lies and broken promises rather than her gender.

"I haven't come across sexism. I was pre-selected in July last year and I haven't come across any misogyny in the LNP.

"And certainly from what I can see with quotes from Shayne Neumann he hasn't given any either; I think the criticism he has given me he would give whether I was male or female. I guess for me it never really was an issue until Julia Gillard raised gender and misogyny as issues.

"When she gave her misogyny speech, as a professional woman I was deeply embarrassed. I stood there with my mouth open.

"When you come across real misogyny and sexism or harassment in the workplace, that hasn't happened to her.

"What has happened to her is people have asked her to be accountable for her decisions and her judgments and I think it's a really low, cheap shot to raise misogyny."

She said she had been given support and advice by Joan Sheldon, Theresa Gambaro, Jane Prentice and Julie Bishop.

"Julie Bishop has come out twice and we've had a lot of long chats," she said.

"So I'm lucky to have had a lot of support but at this stage I haven't had any flak."

She said after working in male-dominated industries for the past 20 years in IT and Defence, politics was nothing new.

"The cultures are different to an all-female work environment and I guess Parliament is the ultimate boys club in a lot of ways," she said.

"I'm not fazed by it; my approach has always been as a female you probably get noticed a bit more.

"It probably takes you longer to gain respect and you have to work a bit harder to start with, but my approach has always been to put my head down, bum up and work hard and then the respect comes.

"That's my approach if I am given the honour of being voted in; to focus on my job."

Topics:  editors picks julia gillard misogyny sexism teresa harding

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