A panel of experts including Sex Discrimination Commissioner Elizabeth Broderick, have debunked the myths on ‘women and leadership’ and called for greater gender equality in the workplace and more women in key roles.
Commissioner Broderick said, “There are a lot of myths floating around that act as excuses as to why women are not moving up in the ranks, and we need to break these down in order to create change”.
The Leadership Re-Imagined event hosted by the University of Sydney Business School in partnership with the Australian National Committee for UN Women, addressed the challenges that women face in corporate and not-for-profit organisations.
Dean of the Business School, Professor Greg Whitwell highlighted the benefits of the MBA Re-Imagined lecture series. “It’s a great opportunity for the business community to hear from a panel of experts who have different experience and industry views and can contribute their unique perspectives on women and leadership,”
The keynote speaker was the University’s Chancellor, Belinda Hutchinson AM, who discussed the need for women to have access to education, and the value of women in leadership roles.
Commissioner Broderick was joined on the panel by Executive Director of the Australian National Committee for UN Women, Julie McKay; Mr Lance Hockridge, Managing Director & CEO of Aurizon and UN Women NC Australia MBA Scholarship Recipient Ms Nancy Nguyen.
The panel discussed how myths about merit, ambition and children were used to justify workplace inequality.
“In terms of merit there is a susceptibility to bias, and the candidates that I think have the most potential are going to be entirely different to the candidates a 55 year old man will identify,” Julie McKay told the 150 invited guests.
The panel also agreed that there is no evidence to suggest women are not ambitious and conversations about ambition and gender biases are critical to a level playing field.
“When you consider the current statistics that show on average, annual full-time earnings for women are 17% less than for men and only 18% of directors in the ASX 200 are women and these figures have varied very little over time,” Commissioner Broderick said. “Another myth is that the problem will sort itself out in the future, which is incorrect.”
Clearly, historical perspectives on gender roles continue to impact women’s ability to reach leadership positions, but the panel concluded that having women in leadership roles is not just the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do.