Julia & Hillary
Former Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in 2012 Getty

Former Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard has said US presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton faces a series of obstacles in her bid for the US Democratic party's nomination that arise solely from gender bias.

Speaking of her own gruelling battle to overcome gender perceptions, Australia's first female premier said it was inconceivable that a man with Hillary Clinton's track record would have to deal with the trivialities that have marked the start of the former US secretary of state's presidential bid.

"The first part of her campaign was dedicated to trying to address the perception that she wasn't very likeable," Gillard told a gathering at the Institute of Directors in London.

I do wish that I had been sharper on the question of sexism earlier in my period as prime minister
- Julia Gillard

"But if we imagine a man who had had exactly the same career as Secretary of Sate with the same issues raised, Benghazi, the questions of the emails and the like, do we think that when he was presented for consideration as president the first problem he would face is that people viewed him as not very likeable? I really don't think so," she said.

As a politician who was called at one point "deliberately barren" over her decision not to have children, Gillard said she wished she had addressed sexist attacks against her far earlier in her prime ministerial career.

"I do wish that I had been sharper on the question of sexism earlier in my period as prime minister," she said.

Gillard's most famous appearance in Australian Prime Minister's questions was over the issue of sexism when she accused the then leader of the opposition, Tony Abbot, of daily misogyny.

"I don't wish I had made that speech earlier because it was a very special day that was both political and enlivened in me a personal response so I didn't set out to give that speech," she explained.

Gillard recounted that on her first trip to Afghanistan to discuss NATO strategy. In their coverage, news outlets were mostly concerned with how she had dressed.

"Somehow people assume you can tell a great deal about the content of a woman's character based on how she dresses. Of course these things do not apply for male politicians they get the benefit of the uniform. You can't go that wrong with a suit and tie and a shirt," she said.

Speaking to commemorate the life of Lady Margaret Mackworth, a suffragette and businesswoman, at the inaugural Mackworth lecture, Gillard said more needed to be done to advance women in politics and in business.

She said she looked forward to a time when women in positions of power were no longer considered remarkable.