Lauren and Julia on the Pathway to Politics

Lauren Day and Julia Dixon

The pathway to politics for women is fraught with challenges. What better way to navigate these challenges than being supported by other women who are prepared to step up and lend a hand.

This is an integral part of the QUT Pathways to Politics program where the cohorts support each other and experienced women politicians share inspiring stories and tips to help women aspiring to be in politics.

Julia Dixon and Lauren Day share their wonderful camaraderie and the learning they gained from being part of the inaugural 2020 Pathways to Politics program cohort.


Julia: Hi I’m Julia Dixon. I’m a fellow of the QUT Pathway to Politics program 2020.

Lauren: And I’m Lauren Day. I also did the program, and I ran for the seat of Maiwar in the last state election.

“Who or what influenced you to apply for this program”

Julia: So, who or what influenced you to apply for this program, Lauren?

Lauren: Well, I basically decided to do it. Obviously, at the time

I was interested in running for pre-selection for the LNP and I then went on to be a candidate for the seat of Maiwar for the LNP.

At the time I was curious about learning more, I wasn’t quite sure if I should leave my then job which was a journalist at Channel 10, and I thought it seemed really interesting.

Julia: Fabulous.

Lauren: What about yourself?

Julia: Well, I was really inspired. I’d been a staffer I’d been behind the scenes, I was interested to see, I guess, what it was like to enter, you know, political life as an elected representative. So I just really wanted to get more of an understanding about, I guess what the best pathway to take, you know, for that pathway should I choose it.

Lauren: Awesome.

“How did the Pathways to Politics Program transform you or help you the most?”

Lauren: So, what did you think of the course, Julia?

Julia: Look, I thought it was a really fabulous overview. We had many great two-day sessions, we obviously got a bit disrupted by COVID, so we had to go to online, but QUT did a really great job in making sure that the experience wasn’t lost even though we had to go to zoom, but I think the program just covered a lot of different aspects, to give you a really real-life, I guess, overview of what being an elected Rep is.

Lauren: Yeah, and so throughout the course, I actually was then pre-selected, so it was kind of interesting going from wanting to learn about politics and then actually kind of entering the arena, so for my part, I found it really helpful to also be with yourself, my BFF…

Julia: Yes.

Lauren: …and other candidates like Fiona Gaske, Kirrily Boulton, so they ran as well, and I found that really helpful that we could bounce off each other, and then meet up in these little groups, talk to each other, and throughout that we were, obviously became quite close, throughout the election. So, that was, yeah, that was really beneficial, and I also thought it was really important to do this course because, from my point of view, I feel like the left ideology often is overtaking universities now and schools and so I thought that it was important to have that LNP voice in a forum like this

Julia: Yeah, and I guess it was really important that you were able to put the theories that we spoke about in the program actually into practical experience because you were actually living that pre-selection to running through for office experience.

“What was the highlight of your experience?”

Lauren: And what was the highlight for you?

Julia: The highlight? Look, I love the media training. I thought it was fantastic. Public speaking is not my strong suit, so it was really great to be taken out of my comfort zone. It was really great to connect with like-minded women, such as yourself Lauren, and Kirrily, and others, it was just it was really great to really understand what you need to do to take it to the next level.

Lauren: I agree. So, in this course, there was one instance where someone would just bust into the room and come up with a microphone,…

Julia: Yeah

Lauren: …and a camera, is if this was a journo doing a vox pop and putting you on the spot so I think that kind of training was really beneficial and also the interview type process.

Another highlight for me was also hearing from politicians from all different parties about the pros and cons, how they juggled their work-life balance, and their experience also in parliament, I thought that was really helpful just getting that sort of personal experience that you don’t often hear about.

Julia: And I think it was really important to hear, like, the warts and all experience, so it was, you know,  it’s not, political life is not glamorous, it sometimes, at times can look very glamorous, but it’s not, it’s really gritty, you’re really at the coalface, and so it was really I guess quite special to hear from other elected representatives that came to speak to us about what their experiences and the highs and the lows and the successes and the and you know not the less, I guess successes that they’ve had.

Lauren:  Yeah definitely.

“What advice would you give to someone looking at applying to this program?”

Lauren: So, my advice if you’re thinking about doing this program would be just to go for it so I guess in my case I then was pre-selected, and it was quite stressful so you’re probably better off doing it sooner rather than later and then the sooner you have that knowledge then the better, and plus you meet like-minded people which is really fun. What about yourself?

Julia: So I think it’s really important to be open-minded with the program you know be open to the new experiences, it’ll definitely stretch you, mentally, you know really understanding your strengths your weaknesses where I guess you need to be more stronger in some areas, so for me, public speaking was an area that I needed to be more stronger in, so it was really great for that, to sort of get that gaps analysis for me.

Lauren: Yeah, you’re very good at public speaking though

(both laugh)

Lauren: Yeah, so, I think you should just go for it.

“What message would you give to those who donated to the cost of this program?”

Lauren: For those donating to the program, well thank you for supporting women. I personally think that we need more women in parliament and at the time I also was hoping that if I got into parliament, I’d be able to mentor other women so I think the women in that course can then also use that information to try and inspire others.

Julia: Yeah, I look again I thank you for me.

I think it’s really important that politics is accessible to anyone and everyone regardless of I guess your background or demographic it’s really so this just gives everyone an equal footing to be able to you know to start their journey and continue their journey on the pathway to politics especially for women.


QUT Pathways to Politics for Women


Professor Vicky Browning is qualified organisational psychologist and executive coach specialising in leadership and human resource development. She completed her PhD at the University of Cape Town and has held senior HR roles in industry and consulted in training and development. She is currently the Program Lead for the QUT Pathways to Politics for Women Program and is responsible for the women in business initiatives in the Faculty of Business and Law including the UN Women sponsorship. She has extensive teaching experience in leadership, organizational behaviour and human resource management and has published in the areas of leadership, pedagogy, evaluation and service excellence in national and international journals. Her current research focuses on exploring leadership through feminist and gender lens with embedded themes of transition and identity.

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