Breaking the glass ceiling: Deyi Wu

Interview with Deyi Wu, President Elect of the NSW Young Liberals

Deyi Wu was named President Elect of the NSW Young Liberals last week. This makes her the first female President since Natasha Maclaren-Jones fifteen years ago. The Sydney Tory sat down with Deyi this International Women’s Day to reflect on the unique experience of women in politics and to hear her story.

Describe your early life?

My family were all Labor voters. I did not grow up talking politics at the dinner table. When I first joined, I literally knew nothing. I joined right before the federal election in 2016, and I remember not being able to hold a conversation with voters. So I went home and I studied the Australian Parliament House website, made notes on each of the Liberal and Labor MPs, and started reading the news every day. From someone who was completely disengaged and unfamiliar with the political process, it’s incredible how much you can achieve if you really want it. 

When did you know you wanted to join the Liberal Party?

I remember sitting in my Arts class thinking that these people had very different values, and wondering why I had to preface every argument with “to play devil’s advocate”. Little did I know that the more Marxist ideology I was taught, the more it pushed me towards the right! I knew a friend who was in the NSW Young Liberals, so I reached out in my first week of uni, and the rest is history.

Who have been the strongest influences on your character development?

My family, which includes my mother and my two brothers, have been the biggest influences in my life. I wouldn’t be here without them. People gloss over family values in our party, but I truly believe families are the bedrock of our society. When you have a supportive family, you can fail and fail again and still have the ability to get up and try again. 

Describe your journey to the top of the largest centre-right youth movement in Australia?

It’s been a slow and steady race to the top – more tortoise, less hare. During the first four years of my involvement in the Young Liberals, I just put my head down and worked hard. It was only in the fifth year that I began to see that Young Liberal Presidency was a real possibility. By the time I had decided to run, I had built up genuine relations with members from across the state and accrued experience managing many aspects of the Movement’s operations. I also saw the parts that needed change. I had a great team behind me – all-male – who believed in me and encouraged me to push past my comfort zone. I look back on the last year and it’s quite surreal we’re finally here. This is where the hard work truly begins. 

What matters most to you in a leader?

The capacity to show respect, even if you vehemently disagree with the other party. 

What accomplishment are you most proud of?

Definitely achieving Young Liberal President (elect). When you’ve never seen a woman occupy that position during your time in the Young Liberals, you don’t let yourself even dream of aiming for that position. Now that we have done that, the next generation of young female leaders can dream even bigger than I did.

What are the biggest challenges you have faced as a woman in the political sphere?

Being underestimated, which can be both a blessing and a curse. A curse because you’re overlooked and have to work twice as hard to be noticed; but a blessing because you can get a lot of work done when no one is watching. 

What would you say to young women who want to get politically involved?

Take the plunge and dive in head first. The best thing you can do is to keep pushing the dial to ensure women have a seat at the table. We owe it to the women before us and everything they achieved to get us where we are today. Not only that, at a personal level, you will learn to become more assertive and confident in yourself; traits which you can take anywhere.

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