International Women’s Day 2023 is here and at UNSW Arts, Design & Architecture, we want to shine the spotlight on our faculty Dean.

Here’s Prof. Annesley’s recent interview with NUW Alliance:  

Tell us more about your research background?

I am a political scientist who studies the rules that assign power to political institutions and the political actors that operate within them. It’s not just the written rules, but the unwritten ones too. The informal rules are often the ones which really dictate how things are done and people behave on a day-to-day basis.

In Cabinets, Minister and Gender (2019), Susan Franceschet, Karen Beckwith and I excavated the rules governing the process of ministerial recruitment to explain why, traditionally, more men than women are appointed to cabinet and what needs to change for more gender equal outcomes.

When I started studying rules, I began to see them and their impacts everywhere - at work, at school, at university, in sport, in the media as well as in politics. It inspires me to call out the rules which really stack power in one direction and to think creatively about how to redesign them for more equity.

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?

International Women’s Day is important because it allows us all to take stock of progress that has been made and to look ahead at what still needs to be done. Really, every day of the year I reflect on what is getting in the way of more equitable outcomes, and seek to make change where I can.  

How can we work to forge change and accelerate equity for women in your area of research?

The Gender and Politics field of research is home to the most incredible international networks of scholars. The Feminism and Institutionalism International Network (FIIN) is just one example. These are smart, challenging, collaborative scholars and I am grateful for their consistent support and kindness across many years. Every researcher deserves such a crew.

What message would you give to girls and young women about exploring the world of your research?

If you’re interested in driving political and social change, study rules. Studying formal and informal rules gives you access to the operating system of society and its many institutions. It’s also a toolkit that allows you to make the small tweaks and large scale changes that lead to more equitable outcomes.

How can we boost women’s participation in your area of research?

Women are well represented in the Gender and Politics field of research. What’s important is to use the research we generate to create more equality in other institutions. For example, more women are entering politics, but the cultures of many political institutions need to change a lot before they might be labelled equitable.

Prof. Annesley is involved with the FIIN – Feminism and Institutionalism International Network