Suffragettes in the media

Learning intention

Students examine early twentieth century media representations of women who campaigned for the right to vote, commonly known as suffragettes, through detailed image study.

Students will:

  • Explore experiences of Australian democracy and citizenship, including the status and rights of women (ACHHK114)
  • Identify points of view in the past and present (ACHHS123)


These images are examples of how women who fought for their right to vote were misrepresented by the media during the suffrage movement of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

You can find background information for students in the Women's rights section of Explore history and the Select resources section of Learn skills.


Primary sources on ergo:

Single image study - student template [Word 11.88 KB]
Comparing images - student template [Word 15.39 KB]


Look at the images detailed above in small groups or as individuals using an image study template. Use questions below to guide discussion:

  • How are suffragettes represented in your image?
  • Why are they are represented that way?
  • Were the artists men or women? What kinds of jobs in the media would women have had at the time?
  • Why do you think women wanted the vote?
  • What kind of women do you think became suffragettes? 
  • Why do you think some men thought giving women the vote would be a burden they shouldn't have to worry about? What do think they thought women should be doing instead?
  • When did women in Australia get the vote?
  • Was Australia one of the first or one of the last countries in the world to give women the vote? Why do you think that is?
A satirical view of a suffragette meeting, with caricatures of attendees.
Front page of the Australian Woman's Sphere, published by Vida Goldstein.
Article describes Vida Goldstein's experiences selling a suffragette newspaper on the streets of Melbourne.
A satirical article deriding the idea of women taking an active role in politics and business.