Caitlyn Buchanan, a 23-year-old social media manager, voted Greens in Hotham on the expectation that would then help a Labor government gain power, because of her concern about gender equality and climate change.
“It’s pretty apparent ScoMo doesn’t care about women at all so that definitely drove my vote,” she said.
Laura Hoevenaars, a 32-year-old HR manager, also voted Greens as she was “disillusioned with both Liberal and Labor”.
“I’m pretty lucky as most of our candidates [in Hotham] are women,” she said, as gender equality, along with climate change, was an issue at the front of her mind.
Mother-daughter duo Leigh Thomson, 52, and Bonnie Thorburn, 25, both said the Coalition’s attitude toward women was “absolutely” behind their decision to vote for incumbent independent Monique Ryan instead of Josh Frydenberg in Kooyong.
Ms Thorburn, a teacher, said she was “definitely, 100 per cent” thinking of the government’s poor track record on gender equality when she voted against them.
Her mother, also a teacher, added: “I can’t vote for the Coalition with the way their policies are about women.”
“Women, we care about things – healthcare, aged care, education, climate – men seem more self-oriented in their vote. So, we need to get some women in [to parliament] and do it together.”
Concern about how women were treated by the Morrison government also drove Carolyn Grandine, 72, to vote for Labor in the ultra-marginal seat of Chisholm.
A swing voter, she said Labor had a better childcare policy than the Coalition, which would then help working-class mothers have families and careers.
“For the working poor, some work three jobs to make ends meet, and there’s more pressure on women because in some jobs they earn two-thirds what men do … there’s this big rift,” she said.
“I’m thinking about why I don’t have grandchildren … and my children didn’t have children because there’s this big discrepancy between what they [women] earn and what [care] costs.”
A single mum herself, Ms Grandine said she was also alarmed by the Coalition’s management of sexual harassment and assault allegations in Parliament House.
‘New order’ is here to stay
Kos Samaras, a former Labor strategist and director of strategy and campaigns at RedBridge Group, said the anger of women had been evident in polling and research groups throughout the election and was here to stay.
“The anger of women in these once-upon-a-time safe Liberal seats has been brewing for years … look at the Victorian state election, you saw these big swings for Labor and you’ve seen that again [towards independents] in these seats,” Mr Samaras said.
“The message the major parties should take out of last night’s result is you can choose to ignore significant parts of the electorate, they will work it out for themselves, and they will take action.”
He said the Liberal Party had come undone not just by how it treated women in its own ranks but also how it treated female voters.
“The Liberal Party has tried to replicate the Trump model, and it’s got a gender aspect to it. It’s very masculine. They got obsessed with this narrative about men who worked in coal mines and everything else didn’t matter.
“But the overwhelming burden of getting society through the pandemic was bourne by women – who did the most work, it was women in caring jobs and women at home educating their kids – and they didn’t appreciate that.
“In this new order, parties will now know that if you think you can go hug a coal miner and tell women to shut up and go back into the kitchen, they’re going to throw you out of power.”
He said Morrison’s unpopularity with women was also a factor – “women we polled in marginal seats were taking a baseball bat to him” – but that he was just “the icing on a cake that the Liberal Party had already cooked”.
Liberals ‘ignored’ women at own peril
Leading businesswomen added that the Liberal Party had brought its issues with women upon itself.
Diane Smith-Gander, a past president of Chief Executive Women, said the Coalition had “ignored” women at its own peril and had yet to show it could accommodate future candidates.
“For the Coalition, they really need to soul search, and they need to increase their diversity. Different voices are the only way they are going to survive. But they have in the past proved they find it hard to bring in new voices,” Ms Smith-Gander said, noting the party room’s previous failure to consider Julie Bishop, a popular and experienced female MP, as its leader.
“Whether the shock of the election result is enough to make the radical change they need, we will still need to see.
“For professional women, there is still bewilderment as to why Julie Bishop was overlooked.”
Ms Smith-Gander said the outgoing government’s candidates were overwhelmingly male and its policies, even where they would have helped women, were not marketed towards women. Nor was there action on addressing issues such as the gender wage gap, childcare and parental leave earnings.
“Independent candidates like Zoe Daniels, Kylea Tink, Kate Chaney, they completely endorsed what Chief Executive Women was asking for. What we are seeing is women coming together full stop – regardless of profession. There is a real alignment between all women.”
The national jobless rate for females fell to 3.7 per cent – the lowest since 1974 and below the 4 per cent rate for males – on Thursday.
Sally Bruce – chief financial and operations officer at employee platform Culture Amp, and the Victorian head of Chief Executive Women – said the election result “reflects exactly” the mood of a large slice of the population, fed up by unaddressed issues of climate change action and the participation of women at decision tables across the country.
“It’s been great to see women putting their foot forward and being elected – and that’s going to happen when you leave these issues unaddressed for as long as they have been,” Ms Bruce said.
“The Coalition has not really addressed the representation of women in their ranks. In every aspect of our community, whether it’s business or government or regulatory, there’s lots of evidence that shows women deliver better results. The evidence is there, but it’s been ignored for a long time. It is yet to be seen whether the Coalition has an appetite to change this.”