The Australian Centre for Leadership for Women (ACLW) conducted a research study between 19 December 2012 and 31 December 12 to explore and understand through an online survey how women view Prime Minister Gillard and Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott’s performance in terms of their leadership and understanding of women’s issues.
The Survey was designed and analysed by Dr Rodgers-Healey using descriptive statistics and frequency distributions, and qualitative/ quantitative Content Analysis for textual data. Eva Cox’s input in the survey design is gratefully acknowledged.
231 women responded to the online survey. The participants represent an interesting cross section of online Australian women on women’s lists, women’s organisations and networks.
77% of the women participants were 41+ years. 92% of the women had postgraduate qualifications. 79% of the women were employed. The majority of the women were employed full-time. The women were predominantly in professional occupations, the majority being in Education followed by Professional, Scientific and Technical Services, and Health Care and Social Assistance and Other Services. The majority of women participants resided in an AustralianCapitalCity.
74% (171) gave high scores indicating their approval of the way Ms Gillard is handling her job as Prime Minister. 26% (60) gave low scores, disapproving of Ms Gillard’s job performance.
When asked ‘what was Gillard’s main strength as Prime Minister’, 311 positive comments and 32 negative comments were made about PM Gillard. Foremost were reflections to do with legislative and policy achievements. Perceived qualities of her determination and tenacity ranked second, followed by her calmness and taking a careful considered approach. The negative comments predominantly reflected the view that ‘she has no strengths, only flaws.’
About the way Mr Abbott is handling his job as Leader of the Opposition, 85% (196) gave low scores indicating their disapproval. 15% (35) gave high scores, in approval of his performance.
18 positive comments on Abbot’s role as Opposition Leader were led by reflections about the ‘media portrayal being unfair.’ 318 negative comments were led by reflections of Abbott’s ‘relentless negativity.’
As to who would make the better PM, 59% (137) chose Ms Julia Gillard. 7% (17) chose Mr Abbott. 15% (35) chose the option, ‘Neither.’ 18% (42) did not respond.
72% (166) gave high scores approving that Prime Minister Gillard is someone who understands the challenges facing Australian women.
However, when asked to comment on this, 54% of the comments reflected perceptions that Ms Gillard is not addressing the challenges facing Australian women and 46% of the comments reflected that she is.
87% (202) gave low scores disapproving that Mr Tony Abbott is someone who understands the challenges facing Australian women.
82% of the comments reflected perceptions that Mr Tony Abbott is not addressing the challenges facing Australian women and 18% of the comments reflected that he is.
The Electoral issue most women want addressed is Equality followed by the Economy and Pay Equity.
As to who is more likely to address it, 46% (107) chose Julia Gillard. 7% (16) chose Tony Abbott. 22% (50) chose ‘Neither.’ 18% (42) did not answer this question. 7% (16) chose the option ‘Can’t Say.’
When asked if Prime Minister Gillard is someone who is trustworthy, 65% (149) chose high scores in agreement. 35% (82) chose lower scores in disagreement.
12% (27) chose high scores in agreement of Mr Abbott being someone who is trustworthy. 70% (161) chose lower scores in disagreement. 19% (43) did not answer this question.
In the next Federal election, 28% (64) indicated that they will be voting for the Australian Labor Party. 21% (49) were Undecided. 18% (42) indicated the Australian Greens and 10% (24) chose the Liberal/National Coalition.
In the 2010 Australian Federal Election, 34% (78) indicated they voted for the Australian Labor Party. 23% (53) indicated the Australian Greens and 14% (33) chose the Liberal/National Coalition.
Of the 170 women who indicated which party they had voted for and will be voting for, there will be no changes in voting preferences for 58% of women. 8% will be changing their preference to vote for the Australian Labor Party. 2% will be changing their preference to vote for the Liberal/National Coalition. 5% will be changing their preference to vote for the Australian Greens. 22% of the women indicated that they were undecided about their voting preference for the next Federal Election.