Changing the face of politics

Applications for the 2021 cohort of the Pathways to Politics Program for Women are now closed. 

In Australia, women are under-represented across all levels of government, business, civil society and positions of influence.

The Pathways to Politics Program for Women is changing the face of politics. It seeks to increase female participation in politics by equipping women with the skills and knowledge to succeed in running for elected office, and to thrive as political leaders.

Now in its sixth year, the Program is a proudly non-partisan initiative open to all female graduates of Victorian universities, which places an emphasis on skills training, good governance, leadership and fostering strong bonds between participants.

The Program has already achieved remarkable success, with 13 program alumnae from across the political spectrum elected to local, state and federal government in just five years.

The foundation program in a national network of independent programs based at Australian universities, the Pathways to Politics Program for Women was launched by the University of Melbourne in 2015 in partnership with the Trawalla Foundation and the Women’s Leadership Institute Australia.

Thanks to the vision and generosity of our founder Carol Schwartz AO, the Program is available free to 25—30 participants each year, who are selected on a competitive basis.

The Program was developed by the University of Melbourne in consultation with the Women and Public Policy Program at the Harvard Kennedy School with reference to their long-running From Harvard Square to the Oval Office practicum, to redress the underrepresentation of women in Australian politics. The Program is based centrally in Chancellery and works in collaboration with academic partner the Melbourne School of Government to facilitate University-wide input.

Similar independent programs, modelled on the University of Melbourne program, have been launched by QUT in 2019 for women in Queensland, and by UNSW in 2021 for women in New South Wales.

Pathways to Politics for Women was featured in these articles in The Age and The Guardian in 2020.

For more than 20 years I've been passionate about improving the quality of leadership and decision making in Australia. Sadly, Australia continues to suffer from a chronic underrepresentation of women in leadership positions and currently ranks as 51st in the world when it comes to the representation of women in government.

- Carol Schwartz AO, Chair, Trawalla Foundation

It has been wonderful to see the program's practical outcomes, and the positive impact it’s had on the conversation around representation of women in parliament.

- Professor Duncan Maskell, Vice-Chancellor, University of Melbourne

The Pathways to Politics Program for Women acknowledges the traditional owners of the lands on which we live and work. We pay our respects to Elders past, present and emerging.