As an educators of girls, I constantly question the way we can best prepare students for their lives beyond the school gates. What lessons will she need to prepare her for the challenges and choices she will face as a woman and citizen of the future. Looking back over the past 50 years there have been many positive changes in the lives of Australian women in all areas of endeavour.
Certainly, our daughters are inheriting a better world than our mothers' generation. We raise them to reach out, to take opportunities offered and to believe that they are capable of the highest callings.
So as an educator of girls, I was saddened this year when the Australian workplace Gender scorecard confirmed that gender equality remains a major barrier for women trying to succeed in the workplace and establish a sound financial base for themselves and their families.
As an educator of girls it troubles me that on average Australian women still earn just 83 cents for every dollar earned by men. If these figures persist this means that a girl graduating this year is likely to earn $1 million less today over her working life than her male counterpart graduating down the road.
As an educator of girls it troubles me that though women are more than 50 per cent of the population and more than 60 per cent of university graduates they somehow only make up only 15.4 per cent of chief executive officers. And that even when they become CEOs they take home 29 per cent less than their male counterparts.
Obviously the effects of these facts on the lives of Australian women are severe and damaging. The impact of this inequality on our businesses and our economy is also huge.
As a leader of a girls’ school and a mother of daughters I find it unacceptable that in 2017 Australia has slipped from 24th to 46th in the world rankings in the Global Gender Gap report. Particularly when we have the wonderful legacy of being the second country to give women the vote. What is clear is that gender equity in the workplace is fundamental to a society that is both prosperous and fair. It is up to all of us to be agents of change.
There is enormous power in using our voice with and for others. This was never more apparent than at the ULead2017 #WomenEd conference in Alberta. Women and men from across continents and different educational jurisdictions came together to share their experiences and to join in open, authentic conversations about the challenges facing women seeking leadership in the 21st century.
Many passionate and dedicated leaders shared their stories and pledged to take action within our own sphere of influence. As educators we are bound by the singular commitment to prepare young people to live in a world that is more equitable and just than ours. #WomenEd is an important part of this undertaking.