Women in government - Introduction

Key learning area: Studies of Society and Environment

Year level: Lower Secondary

Lesson duration: 300 minutes (5 lessons)

Unit topic: Gender perspectives in Australian politics

Lesson topic: Women in government

Aim of the lession

  • Investigate individuals who have campaigned for expanded human rights (specifically women’s rights) and democracy
  • Compare democracies such as Australia’s to countries with other forms of government.

Curriculum Links

Links to the Australian Curriculum 

Student learning outcomes


  • Increase students’ knowledge of notable women in Australian politics and their contribution to public life.
  • Consider Australia’s record of women in power from a historical and contemporary perspective.


  • Research skills
  • Collaborative skills (working in groups)
  • Analytical skills


  • A fair go
  • Equality


  1. The internet
  2. A3 sheet of paper to create ‘fact sheets’
  3. Rules for debating
  4. A woman who is in the local council or state or federal parliament to speak to the class

Note to teachers

The notable women students are asked to research are:

  • Ms Vida Goldstein - First woman to nominate for election to a national parliament (1903)
  • Ms Edith Cowan OBE - First woman elected to an Australian parliament (1921)
  • Hon. Dame Enid Lyons DBE - First female member of the House of Representatives (1943)
  • Ms Dorothy Tangney - First woman Senator, WA (1943)
  • Dame Margaret Guilfoyle DBE - First woman to be a member of a Federal Cabinet (1976)
  • Hon. Joan Child AO - First female Speaker of the House of Representatives (1986)
  • Hon. Julia Gillard - First female Deputy Prime Minister, first female Acting Prime Minister,(2007) first female Prime Minister (2010)
  • Ms Janine Haines - First woman to lead a political party (1986)
  • Ms Pauline Hanson - First woman to form an Australian political party (1997)
  • Hon. Rosemary Follett - First female head of government in Australia, Chief Minister of the ACT (1989)
  • Hon. Dr Carmen Lawrence - First female Premier of a state, WA (1990)
  • Hon. Joan Kirner AM - First female Premier of Victoria (1990)
  • Hon. Anna Bligh - First female Premier of Queensland (2007)
  • Cr. Lilian Fowler - First female mayor, NSW (1938)

Introduction | Activity One | Activity Two | Activity Three

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