Kyogle Council candidates Pat Anderson (left) and Lynette Zito.
Kyogle Council candidates Pat Anderson (left) and Lynette Zito. Jacklyn Wagner : The Northern Star

'Listeners replacing primates'

WOMEN are from Venus and men are from Mars - or from Kyogle if you're referring to council chambers.

The only female councillor elected last term, Patsy Nagus, ceased to be a councillor in July, making Kyogle Council the only male-only council in the region.

However, with four female candidates running for election this year, it is likely the council will lose this title.

This can only be a good thing, according to Kyogle councillor Peter Lewis. “It wouldn't just be about women replacing men, but listeners replacing primates,” he said.

“I think women are more inclined to explore issues instead of just try to win arguments.

“Politics definitely seems to attract alpha males.”

Kyogle Council candidate Lynette Zito said the town had suffered from the lack of female representation.

“We are lacking community consultation, and there are studies that prove women are better communicators, they actually talk to people and are good listeners,” she said.

“Women also make up around 51 per cent of the population so we need to represent them.”

Not that Ms Zito is running simply because she is a woman.

“I'm not going into this election with a pink and fluffy feeling just because I'm a woman. I actually feel I have something to offer the community,” she said.

Fellow candidate Janet Wilson said there had been research during the past few years proving local governments were fairly resistant to change when it came to including women, as councillors or working in the council's administrative body.

When discussion turned to the running of female candidates at a recent Kyogle Council meeting Cr Jeff Marriott said he would be 'highly offended to think women wouldn't feel comfortable on council'.

Not having adequate female representation on the council could also affect younger generations in need of positive female role models, according to Ms Wilson.

“For young people in particular, if they see someone doing something they will start to think 'I can do this too',” she said.

The thought of fitting into a male-dominated council has not flustered fellow candidate Pat Anderson.

Ms Anderson was the first female customs manager in Queensland and is used to dealing with men in the workplace.

“At a previous job the men used sporting analogies to explain things and you did feel a bit silly if you asked them to explain it,” she said.

Ms Anderson said including more female councillors wouldn't just redress the issue of gender balance.

“It's also an issue of increasing diversity on council, not just in the gender of candidates but also in their background and skills,” she said.

However, Ms Zito said even though she had encountered men in the workplace who had seen women 'as a threat', she believed acceptance could be gained with a little bit of hard work.

“In my experience, if you just put your head down and do your work, men will start to accept you because you can do the job, and often it just takes a bit of patience,” she said.

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