Centre for Continuing Education

Politics Course: Issues for Women in 2017

Politics. Protecting and advancing ideas or goals in our communities.

Learn Politics the smart way with Politics courses at CCE, The University of Sydney.


Relatively few women are presented in the media as role models for aspiring young and older women; when women are elevated to high office, they are held to higher account. This was the predicament of Hillary Clinton and other past or present women leaders. Universities and the Australian Government aspire to draw women into studying STEMM subjects, and political parties theoretically have quotas/targets for female participation in the democratic process; yet the hurdles still remain higher for women than they do for men.

In this course, participants will be encouraged to debate the issues facing women in work, politics and STEMM. This course engages with leading academics, opinion leaders and role models to develop your understanding of current and emerging gender-based issues in Australia and other Western countries.


By the end of the course, participants should be able to take part in discussions on:

  1. Hillary Clinton faced gender-based issues in the United States Presidential Election; her competitor in the Democratic nomination race, Bernie Sanders and her opponent in the Presidential Election, Donald Trump did not have to overcome such hurdles.
  2. The obstacles to success are different for men and women in Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Medicine. Women face perennial issues of balancing work and family that remain unsolved, despite advances in the last few decades.
  3. Universities and the Australian Government face difficulties in luring young women into STEMM careers, while caring responsibilities remain so one sided. Achieving a gender balance in these industries remains elusive, despite some notable exceptions.
  4. Women in Australian politics face the same problems as women in STEMM and other professions. Are the younger generation of women getting it right, or are they faced with a ‘work/work’ scenario, still problems with superannuation, insecure and low paid work?
  5. For men and women of the Western world, we have witnessed Hillary Clinton’s unsuccessful attempt to become the most powerful person in the world and not be elected the first female President of the United States of America. Why not? In this course we will discuss Hillary’s attempt to rise to power and why that attempt to rise failed, even though she secured “more than 1.5 million votes more than her Republican rival”, Donald Trump. Is there a bigger issue here beyond personalities, beyond Hillary Clinton, beyond other women leaders such as Julia Gillard? Dr Rebecca Sheehan of United States Studies Centre stated “Instead, it's more about a broader dislike of women who challenge the traditional gender order”. Is “Trump's victory over Clinton a serious setback for women worldwide”? Should we mourn the Trump victory or should we organise as veteran women’s rights campaigner and feminist, Gloria Steinem suggested?
  6. We will also discuss how women fared in the Australian 2016 Federal election. Is there a need for quotas on both sides of the Australian parliament? Do the Liberal Party need an “Emily's List style of organisation” or a “Foundation 51”?
  7. Despite the setback for Hillary Clinton can women still have it all, or do they still face important challenges in Western society and Australia in particular such as insecure work, superannuation, work-life balance or is it more accurate “work/work”?
  8. This course also explores the important issue of women and STEMM. According to ‘Opportunities for women in science, technology, engineering and maths’, National Innovation & Science Agenda, Australian Government, “Only one in four IT graduates and fewer than one in 10 engineering graduates are women... We need a concerted, national effort to overcome the cultural, institutional and organisational factors that discourage girls and women from studying STEM, and that limit their opportunities to pursue STEM careers.” Australia has many leaders in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine (STEMM). It’s time to celebrate our female role models in STEMM. Join us to explore the lives of women leaders in the fields of STEMM and help to inspire the next generation of young women leaders.


With the assistance of great Guest Speakers, ‘Issues for Women in 2017’ we will study, discuss and debate numerous issues such as:

  • Women and the United States Presidential Election
  • Women and quotas in the Australian political context
  • Women and superannuation
  • Women in insecure and low-paid work
  • Women and work-life balance, or "work/work"
  • Women in science and medicine
  • Women and engineering
  • Women and mathematics.

Intended Audience

This course is suitable for personal interest adult learners, University students and ‘Third Phase’ persons who have an interest in women’s issues, women’s history and gender equity.

Delivery Style

This politics course will be delivered as a face-to-face, interactive lecture featuring a number of guest speakers*. Questions and open discussions will be encouraged.

*The list of topics and guest speakers may be subject to change.

Recommended Reading

  1. 'Trump’s victory over Clinton is a serious setback for women worldwide', ‘The Conversation’,by Lina Abirafeh, Director, Institute for Women’s Studies in the Arab World, Lebanese American University, 10 November 2016.
  2. ‘How to Pick a President without Being Sexist’, ‘Greater Good - The Science of a Meaningful Life’,by Jeremy Adam Smith, 24 February 2016.
  3. ‘Research: We Are Way Harder on Female Leaders Who Make Bad Calls’, ‘Harvard Business Review’,by Therese Huston, 21 April 2016.
  4. ‘Women in politics: Are parties doing enough to get women elected?’,'ABC News'by Stephanie Anderson, ‘ABC News’, 19 July 2016.
  5. ‘Opportunities for women in science, technology, engineering and maths’,by Australian Government.
  6. 'Gender equity'.
  7. 'Yassmin’s Story – Who Do You Think I am?',by Yassmin Abel-Magied, (Random House, 2016).
  8. ‘Women still find it tough to reach the top in science’, 'The Conversation'by Sharon Bell, 24 March 2015.
  9. ‘Work/Life or Work/Work? Corporate Legal Practice in the Twenty-First Century’, 'Social Science Research Network'by Professor Margaret Thornton.
  10. Mary Delahunty, Gender equity in retirement, Winston Churchill Memorial Trust of Australia, Final Report, December 2015.
  11. Submission from WIRE Women’s Information & Referral Exchange Inc., Victorian Inquiry into the Labour Hire Industry and Insecure Work, 20 November 2015, pp. 1-13.
  12. 'Women at Work: Australia and the United States'by Professor Marian Baird, Associate Professor Rae Cooper and Meraiah Foley, United States Studies Centre, October 2016.
  13. ‘Australia should look overseas for ideas to increase its number of women MPs’, ‘The Conversation’,by Emeritus Professor Marian Sawer, 25 August 2016.


  • Expert trainers
  • Central locations
  • Small class sizes
  • Free, expert advice
  • Student materials – yours to keep
  • Certificate of completion