A 'hotties list' ranking female government graduates has been exposed.

Allegations of a so-called “Hotties List” ranking female participants of a government graduate program by their attractiveness, have been revealed.

The list was allegedly created by male junior public servants in the Department of Infrastructure and Transport program, of which two thirds of the 35-strong cohort are men. Most graduates are under 30, with many holding post-graduate and PhD qualifications. 

While an independent investigation was unable to substantiate the “degrading” list, department secretary, Jim Betts, said that didn’t mean it didn’t exist. 

“This relates to allegations which were made ... that certain male members of the graduate cohort had assembled a degrading list of women which assessed them by their so-called hotness, which is just a disgusting phrase that I hate to have to mention,” Mr Betts told a Senates estimates committee, when grilled by Nationals Senator Bridget McKenzie.

Betts revealed the details of the list after Senator McKenzie asked him if the phrase “hotties list” meant anything to him. She said the “concerning” practice of ranking women belonged in the '80s.


Rumours of the list began circulating within the department in March, with an official complaint made in May. At that point, Betts said he consulted the female graduates, ensuring adequate support, after seeking advice from former sex discrimination commissioner Kate Jenkins. 

However, Betts didn’t inform Transport Minister Catherine King claiming he thought involving politicians would further complicate the issue. No graduates were fired, but Betts said the department had reminded participants about expectations and requirements, and if the allegations were proven, the "most severe sanctions" would be applied. He also admitted the gender balance wtihin the pogram was unacceptable.

"We will never have a future graduate program where the gender balance is two-third male and one-third female," he said.

Professor Silke Meyer, Leneen Forde Chair in Child and Family Research, said she wasn’t surprised to find a predominantly male graduate cohort under 30 rating their female peers on their appearance or sex appeal.

“It's a reflection of male attitudes towards women in Australia,” Professor Meyer said. 

Professor Meyer said this type of behaviour wasn’t unique to the government. Last year, similarly degrading lists emerged involving students from an elite private school in Melbourne, who ranked their female teachers’ genitals and the attractiveness of each other’s sisters’.  


“Also completely inappropriate but a reflection of the male privilege that is prominent in certain educational spaces and professions,” Professor Meyer said.

“(Here) we're talking about teenagers, where we may still have a chance with interventions and education to shift some of those attitudes. It's much harder to shift this in graduate cohorts of adult men. 

“In my view, they're not suitable for the jobs they're being trained for if they can't even respect and uphold basic expectations around gender equality.”

Aside from being “disgusting”, Professor Meyer said the conduct negatively effected both the targeted individuals as well as the wider community of women and girls. 

“What it tells us is that women and girls' worth continues to be defined by looks and appearances, which is unhealthy from a community attitudes perspective and counterproductive to the education efforts around gender equality. 

And while not all women may be directly affected by showing up on a "ranking list", it can also have negative effects on women's psychological wellbeing when being targeted for their appearance.   

A 2021 report found more than half the people working in Parliament had experienced at least one incident of bullying, sexual harassment or actual or attempted sexual assault, while 77 per cent had experienced, witnessed or heard about such behaviour.

The review found power imbalances, male dominated workplaces, a culture of silence and a “work hard, play hard” culture contributed to the high levels of inappropriate behaviour. 

Feature image: X/@MarkusMannheim

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