With Gladys Berejiklian recently gaining the job as Premier of NSW, I am reminded of this article that I found several years ago from when she had been elected as President of the Young Liberals in NSW in 1996.
In newspaper profiling the Premier in recently, you do see the images of her in the outfit that you see below, but was surprised that the photo below of her standing on the steps of Parliament House in Macquarie Street was not featured.
Source: Van Den Nieuwenhof, L. 1996. "Gladys prepares to fight for Libs". The Sunday Telegraph, November 3, 60.
At the time, she was only 26 years old, and wanted to use her appointment to the role to highlight the issues of youth e.g. Generation X. She was asked to comment on the recent debate on immigration as highlighted by Federal MP (now One Nation Leader & Queensland Senator) Pauline Hanson just two months before. Despite her Armenian heritage, she felt at the time there needed to be a restriction on the number of immigrants permitted into Australia each year,
Very few people reading this article were thinking back in 1996 that Gladys would end up running the nations premier state, but it was a sign of things to come. A politician of the future was in the grooming.
The staffer for (then) NSW Opposition Leader Peter Collins, would end up succeeding him as the Member for Willoughby in 2003, when Collins retired from politics. She worked her way up through the shadow cabinet. When the Liberals gained power in 2011, she become Transport Minister. Under Mike Baird (2014-17), she ascended to the role of treasurer and when he retired last month, endorsed her to lead the Liberals. On January 23, the party room elected her as Premier in an unanimous vote.
Her appointment as Premier also makes her the first woman to lead a Liberal Party Government in any Australian State Parliament, and the second woman to lead a government in NSW.
The stereotypes were being bulldozed then? I hope even more can be bulldozed now. Will she finally bulldoze the negative stereotypes of women leading in politics that sections of the media has created under the leadership of others i.e. Clover Moore, Julia Gillard and Christine Nixon? I hope so. Gender does not shape how one leads. It's the decisions that a leader makes that defines their ability to lead.