The treatment of women in politics is dissuading future female leaders, says a charity on the sidelines of a defamation battle between two federal senators.
Plan International Australia has been nominated by Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young to receive a portion of any winnings in her legal suit against Liberal Democrat senator David Leyonhjelm.
The charity revealed stark findings in its 2017 survey of more than 2000 Australian girls and women about their career aspirations.
Only two per cent of girls aged 10 to 14 wanted to work in politics, rising to five per cent for those aged 15 to 17 and no women aged 18 to 25 had aspirations to work in politics.
The vast majority felt discrimination and scrutiny would be a major hurdle to overcome. Almost all (93%) of girls in the same age group said it would be easier to get ahead in life if they were not judged on their appearance.
Additionally, almost all (98%) of the girls Plan International Australia surveyed said boys and girls received unequal treatment and the number one ‘wish’ girls had for their future was to live in a gender equal society, above anything else.
The survey also found a quarter of men believed women should focus on their family over their political aspications.
"For too long outright sexist barbs have been hurled at female politicians," the charity's director of advocacy Hayley Cull said on Tuesday.
"Senator Hanson-Young is certainly not the first woman who a male politician has attempted to humiliate in the Senate and she won't be the last."
Senator Leyonhjelm told Senator Hanson-Young "to stop shagging men" during parliamentary debate and then made further comments on live TV and radio about her private life.
"When you consider how female politicians are still treated in parliament and the media in this country, is it any wonder the next generation has no desire to expose themselves to this world?" Ms Cull said.
"There's a saying that you can only be what you can see."