There’s something I’d love to draw your attention to.
It’s a new book, from the inimitable Sandra Sully, called AGENDA: Empowering Australian Women. Released in time for International Women’s Day, it features portraits and conversations with Australian women – what’s relevant to us, what matters to us, what we need to change and where we are winning and failing.
I was stoked to be included in the book, and to chat with Sandra. We talked about where we’re at after #MeToo, what barriers still exist for women and how we can close the gaps.
They’re big questions and I don’t have all the answers. But it’s a conversation I was honoured to be included in.
This International Women’s Day, I’d love you to have the same conversation with the people in your life.
Here’s a little extract of my answers:
So, where to after #MeToo?
I love what Michelle Obama said after the backlash to the #MeToo movement, and the appointment of Brett Kavanaugh to the US Supreme Court.
She spoke about change not being easy. And she’s right, it’s not. For any change to be made there’s going to be highs and lows, progress and regression. Ups and downs. But like Obama said “There’s going to be a little discomfort, but I think it’s up to the women out there to say, ‘Sorry. Sorry that you feel uncomfortable, but I’m now paving the way for the next generation’.”
Guess what? Change doesn’t happen inside your comfort zone. It’s uncomfortable but that discomfort is necessary.
As for the barriers that still exist for women, there are still so many.
I remember walking into my first Engineering class at University. I walked in, sat down and a guy turned to me and said “I think you’re in the wrong class. You don’t belong here.” That’s when I realised I was the only woman in the room. But I can choose to focus on that moment, on that attitude, that barrier – or I can choose to focus on the fact that I sat through that class, and four more years of classes like that, and ended up with a successful career as an Engineer.
I can choose to look at the negative fall out of #MeToo, or I can choose to look at the incredible women, and the incredible male allies coming out in full force to create change.
So yes, while there’s a big gap between where we are and where we want to be, I try to focus my attention on the women who are changing the game right now.
If we can do our best to embody the qualities we admire in those women, and bring that into our own lives, that’s how we’ll improve our reality.
Some women I admire, respect and listen to (for all manner of reasons):
Beth Hamilton, Serena Williams, Clementine Ford, Jane Goodall, Stephanie Gilmore, Zoe Foster-Blake, Brené Brown, Michelle Obama.
How do we close the gaps?
Well, this is huge. There is so much to be done. But like with any big challenge, I try to focus not on the end goal but on the small steps I can take today.
Because, like with any big goal or change you’re trying to make, if you focus only on that end result, the gap between where you are and where you want to be can feel overwhelming.
Focus on the small steps and reward positive change.
When you see someone correcting a mate about negative language or predatory behaviour, recognise it publicly. The more we can shine a light on the progress, on the small wins, the more we can create change.
Happy International Women’s Day,