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One is the loneliest number
01 October 2013
I was going to talk about Mr Abbott’s cabinet - in fact his whole inner and outer ministry and the dearth of women in his government… but it’s so maddening I’ve decided not to depress myself by dwelling on the Coalition’s lack of diversity and to look at some reasons why such a situation might happen.
It’s not that I think the other side is doing a whole lot better but they did give us, for one brief moment, a female Prime Minister.
And she, who is typing her own memoir, is what brings me to the hideous nature of the double standards surrounding being a woman in politics - in fact being a woman just about anywhere, and why I think it sometimes turns women off stepping up.
When a woman gets a job and, for whatever the reason, she is unsuccessful, people use that failure as proof of the fact that women shouldn’t be in those roles because they’re not suitable.
Now, think about a man in the same position? He fails and another man takes his place – because, after all, it was just that particular man who wasn’t suitable.
As for why there are so few women in politics? There’s the growing argument that no woman in her right mind would choose to do it because the treatment by the system, the party, the public and the media is so appalling. Why put yourself through it.
It’s an argument that’s looking pretty strong, and the outcome is how do you build a pipeline of women candidates if there are none coming through the ranks or being given the opportunities to progress?
How do you attract the multitude of bright smart women out there to be the top class leaders I know they are?
I am convinced they are out there because we have our next 100 Women of Influence and in the search for them we have gone outside our own backyards and safe networks to uncover not just the usual suspects, the women we all rely on to be there and act for us, but so many others whose influence in their communities, whose leadership and abilities, are worth applauding and acknowledging and taking a punt on.
Certainly, the power of women’s markets and the potential for women to lead a global economic recovery is spreading like wildfire if we look overseas. I’ve just returned from the Global Banking Alliance for Women in Istanbul, Turkey. Postponed from June to September because of the unrest in the country back then, the summit was held right on Taksim Square where the protests had taken place and even while we were there, things were not completely calm.
For us, though, inside the conference there was a different sort of buzz. The excitement and commitment of the fast growing number of member banks to supporting the female economy and women’s business initiatives was palpable.
I am 62 years old and I have been pushing back on male and institutional opposition to women and developing women’s markets for a long time now. It can be hard work, and like the women of the LNP must be feeling, it can be very disheartening when things go backwards or progress slows. So imagine my excitement at the level of thought and effort these world-playing banks and institutions, such as the US State Department, which also attended the summit this year, are taking to understand and connect with women’s markets and the female economy. It left me re-energised.
I also want to welcome my colleagues from Westpac, Rachel Slade (General Manager, AFS Transformation and Delivery) and Lisa Ronson (head of Mass Marketing Services, AFS Marketing Mass Marketing Services), onto the GBA. It’s so important that more women and young women get involved. Fresh ideas and new energy can’t help but reinvigorate and add to what has already been achieved.
During the time in Istanbul, which, having read Dan Brown’s Inferno, I felt I knew even before I got there, we could either visit the Spice or Grand Bazaars. As anyone who knows me will tell you, I don’t cook so the Spice Bazaar wasn’t calling me.
With 61 covered streets and more than 3000 shops selling what your heart might desire, it was the Grand Bazaar that beckoned.
I took so many photos, and for the first time really got into Facebook. Every day I’d check what my daughters were up to and post updates for them and pictures from my iPad. I quickly realised how amazingly connected and safe it makes you feel to be able to check in and check-up.
I have to admit though. I failed iPad video 101.
Before I left my girls had given me a little lesson on how I could take videos on the iPad, not just photos. And I was ready to put my new skill to use out on the Bosphorus for an evening dinner cruise while we were in Istanbul. The red light on, I studiously videoed the sites and had hours of footage. I hadn’t missed a thing. In fact I’d been so engrossed in my task that the next morning a number of people asked me where I’d disappeared to during the night. Videoing I told them, proudly whipping out my iPad to show them my films… and to my horror, there was nothing there. (Bit like Tony’s cabinet.)
It turned out I had not turned on the video. The red light must be blinking for the camera to be rolling, so to speak. Imagine the embarrassment and the tears of laughter as my colleagues and I mimicked my purposeful stance of the night before on the boat, iPad poised and pointed at the sites.
Ah, well, it gives me the perfect excuse to return to Turkey.