Liberal candidate for Wentworth Dave Sharma. Image credit: Mick Tsikas/AAP.

Among the weights in the Liberal Party's saddlebags as it fights to retain its parliamentary majority at the October 20 Wentworth byelection, the party's problem with women is perhaps exceeded only by the circumstances of Malcolm Turnbull's departure.

In a socially progressive electorate that votes Liberal for economic reasons, the recent double whammy of bullying claims and controversy around parliamentary gender balance reinforces a sense that today's party represents a brand of conservatism out of step with its own values.