Gender heard before my words

These were the words of the current World Champion in Persuasive Speaking, Jacqueline Farrell, at the Ravenswood School for Girls last night. Speaking at an empowerment event organised by the prefect body at the school, Jacqueline (Year 12) opened with an account of what it meant to be of the female gender. “My gender is heard before my words” she told us – illustrating how through body language, vocal tone and mansplaining, men were constantly at an advantage. It might have been a useful eye opener for the young men from various private male boys schools who were part of the assembled audience of prefects, staff and parents.
The gender empowerment event had been organised by the Ravenswood prefect body under the leadership of School Captain, Charlotte Fouche. All the girls had put a huge effort into inviting panel members from across the business, industry, government and private sectors. I felt privileged to be in the company of:
  • Christine Bartlett, NED Mirvac, GBST, Sigma Pharmaceuticals, Clayton Utz, TAL and Chair of the Smith Family.
  • Tim Reed, CEO of MYOB, member Male Champtions for Change
  • Prof. Nalini Joshi AO, Chair of Applied Mathematics at the University of Sydney and a Georgina Sweet Australian Laureate Fellow.
  • Sanushka Seogmangal, Special Council Thomson Geer
Christine spoke on behalf of Chief Executive Women about the status of women in leadership and on boards citing many of the statistics from the research reports done with Bain. She then shared her advice for a successful career:
  • The harder I work the luckier I get.
  • Choose your life partner carefully - do they want the same thing as you?
  • Network internally and externally
  • Seek mentoring but more importantly sponsorship
  • When evaluating a role take a hard look at who you will be working for. Will they support, stretch, coach and sponsor you for promotion.
The last point is an interesting one and is echoed by Sheena Wilson, the former global head of talent for BNY Melon who co-presents On Track for Succes with me, when she says "always hire somone you would one day be prepared to work for". See her top career tips on this video. Timely advice for all the of the young, energetic minds in the room.

Events such as this where the passion are strong are always inspiring, and this was no exception. As one girl said to me on the way out – “it was feminism without being patronising – it was great”.

Well done Ravenswood prefects - let WOB know if we can ever help you in any way.

Enjoy your weekend.
Claire Braund
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