Minister shocked by child's sexist response

Victoria's Minister for Community Services Mary Wooldridge speaking at last month's Leading Change Breakfast in Ararat. Picture: PETER PICKERING

Victoria's Minister for Community Services Mary Wooldridge speaking at last month's Leading Change Breakfast in Ararat. Picture: PETER PICKERING

VICTORIAN Minister for Community Services Mary Wooldridge has revealed how shocked she was by an act of blatant sexism from a young child when she visited a Melbourne school 12 months ago.

"In that process you never quite know where things are going to go, when you've got grade fives and grade sixes," she said.

Ms Wooldridge said one of the children asked her whether she preferred Kevin Rudd or Julia Gillard.

"Now I try and avoid political comments when I'm at primary schools so I threw the question back to the children and asked them to vote on who they preferred between the two," she said.

"Asking them to put up their hands if they would like to explain why they voted the way that they did.

"One young boy jumped up immediately and said that he supported Kevin Rudd because he didn't think a woman should be Prime Minister."

Ms Wooldridge said the response was clear evidence that sexism exists and is embedded at an early age, reinforced by family behaviour and peer norms.

"As you can imagine I was a pretty amazed, a bit horrified and had to manage the situation delicately, but firmly put him back in his place."

"However, what was really interesting was a teacher came up to me afterwards and apologised, obviously the boy's response was out of her control, but what she said, is that the young boy's response didn't surprise her because she knew his father."

Ms Wooldridge told the gathering at last month's Leading Change Breakfast in Ararat her personal experience was backed up by Victorian Health data that revealed one in five men believe domestic violence can be excused if it results in people getting so angry that they end up temporarily losing control and that one in five men believe domestic violence can be excused if afterwards the violent person genuinely regrets what they've done.

"A foreign concept to most, but obviously a reality for many in our broader community," she said.

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