A “Hotties List” ranking young women according to their attractiveness is said to have been distributed within the Department of Infrastructure’s male-dominated graduate program.
- The list would have ranked women enrolled in the department’s graduate program according to their attractiveness.
- An external investigation could not prove its existence
- Secretary failed to inform minister when made aware of allegations
Concerns about a list were first raised with the ministry in March this year, and a formal complaint was made in May.
Independent investigators were unable to confirm whether the list, which covered the current cohort of 35 graduates – including graduate and doctorate holders – existed or not.
This year’s graduate program is two-thirds male and mostly under 30.
Nationals senator Bridget McKenzie used the Senate estimates to question the department over the so-called list, which she described as being from the 1980s.
“Allegations of this type of behavior would be incredibly concerning to the one-third of women in the graduate program so represented,” Senator McKenzie said.
Department of Infrastructure Secretary Jim Betts told Senate Estimates he was disgusted when he heard the complaint.
“Allegations were made within our graduate program regarding concerns from some female graduates that some male members of the graduate cohort had made a list, a demeaning list of women that rated them based on their self- saying attraction,” Mr. Betts said.
“We have not been able to justify the existence of such a list, which does not mean that it does not exist, it just means that we have not been able to justify it.
“We then embarked on a process that included having conversations with all female graduates without any men in the room to ensure they were receiving all the support the department could provide.”
Mr Betts said his department had followed the advice of former Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins and held several sessions both with all graduates and separately with female graduates.
He said that if new information came to light supporting these claims, he would not hesitate to adopt the “strongest sanctions available.”
Mr Betts also pledged to ensure future graduate recruitment is more gender balanced.
The minister is not informed
The ministry’s director of operations, Maree Bridger, detailed how the ministry became aware of the allegation.
“On March 30 we were verbally informed of a rumor about a list and then in May we received further verbal advice,” Ms Bridger said.
“We contacted the graduate in May and on May 19 we received a written complaint.”
Mr Betts was asked why Infrastructure Minister Catherine King was not informed.
He responded that the ministry had learned lessons and that it was its responsibility and not that of the minister.
“I have not informed the minister about this matter, no,” he said.
“It is my responsibility to resolve this problem. I am the employer, I am the responsible authority.
“I’m not sure involving politicians is helpful.”