By Charlotte Antoinette
American TV personality, fashion influencer and actress, Nicole Ritchie’s father, Lionel, had a hit song that reached number 2 in the Australian record charts in 1986 called Dancing on the Ceiling. Why have I mentioned this song? The glass ceiling is a phrase referring to the unacknowledged barrier affecting advancements in professions and industries. This largely affects women and minorities. Ex- Prime Minister, Julia Gillard has recently released a book she co-authored called “Women in Leadership – Real Lives -Real lessons” which explores said issue, and why it needs to be dismantled within society.
In recent decades the social conversation shifted from “does the glass ceiling exist?” to “how do women and minorities overcome barriers in professions traditionally dominated by a group?” Such a progression has occurred especially in the business and political spheres. Part of the reason the conversation has progressed it that more and more women and minorities have succeeded, such as Julia Gillard.
Other female CEO’s who have “danced on the ceiling” include
YouTube’s Susan Wojcicki, Canva’s Melanie Perkins and Oz- Harvest’s Ronni Kahn
In Gillard’s book and interview on ‘The conversation’ she explains how she expects Australia’s second and third female Prime Minister to have an easier time than she did following her impact to the glass ceiling for women in politics. I am sure we all hope that as more women break this glass ceiling and surpass gender expectations, we witness a stronger focus on the quality of the next female prime ministers work or any other female leader’s work. Too often is press coverage rather on what colour jacket she is wearing or whether she has had children- topics that are rarely made evident for male counterparts in the public eye.
Gillard explained on the ABC’s Q&A program the following advice to young women and minorities:
· That “No dream is too big”
· “Go for it but don’t be naïve” – think in advance what the challenges will be – “to think forward is to be forearmed”
· Have you own sense of self and not be hostage to what other people say about you, particularly on social media.
· “Stubbornness can be both a quality and limitation to success”
With the focus of this term’s issue on leadership, it is important to consider the female leaders during this year 2020 that has been so unique. Countries well led during the COVID-19 pandemic include New Zealand, Germany, Finland and Demark. These leaders have displayed a unique balance of strength and empathy and just happen to be female as well.
I hope that this issue reminds readers of your innate ability to transcend through any glass ceiling or barrier we face just not as women but as individuals with our own uniqueness and are empowered to act creatively and confidently to achieve anything. Julia Gillard is an exemplary individual whose actions will assist females in the future with their debut into Australian politics and it’s important to consider how your actions today can too help break a glass ceiling for future generations; despite its challenges in the present.