Date of this Version

January 1998

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Details

Power, M., & Berardone, M. (1998). Speaking in parliament: First speeches of men and women. Journal of Applied Social Behaviour, 4(2), 42- 55. Reproduced with the kind permission of The Journal of Applied Social Behaviour
©School of Social Science, Queensland University of Technology, 1998.


In Parliament, as in society generally, there is a tension between forces for change and pressures to retain the modes of the past. On the one hand, because genres are sensitive to changes in culture, it is reasonable to expect that the presence of women will eventually influence parliamentary speech genres. Hence, women’s use of the genre -- language usage, style and topic focus -- in First Speeches to the House of Representatives might be expected to differ from that of men although, until the percentage of women in Parliament rises beyond the present 14%, one would expect the differences to be slight as women tried consciously to adapt to established genres. Based on analysis of a sample of First Speeches in Parliament this study found a clear difference in that while women speak as much about finance and the economy, the budget, the deficit and small business they speak more about local and family issues than men. In addition women spend more time thanking those who helped them get to Parliament than men do, and they self-disclose more in their speeches which do not differ significantly in length from those made by men, on the occasion of their First Speech in Parliament.



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