Women in Business

I spoke in Parliament on Wednesday about the ACT Telstra Business Women's Awards.
Telstra Business Women's Awards
12 October 2011

I was recently privileged to attend the Telstra Business Women's Awards, which recognise outstanding women and their contribution to the business community. Past winners include some of Australia's most talented business leaders, whose career paths and individual achievements continue to inspire businesspeople around the country. It is often tough being a woman in business or in other leadership roles. In her book Delusions of Gender, Cordelia Fine tells the story of botanist Jeanne Baret and mathematician Sophie Germain, who around the turn of the 19th century were forced to pretend to be men in order to excel in the world of science. Thankfully, those kinds of games are no longer necessary. But it is still true that it is tougher to be a woman in business than it is to be a man.

I want to acknowledge the Telstra ACT Business Woman of the Year, Robyn Walker, from the Department of Defence. The Commonwealth Bank Business Owner Award went to Karen Nicholas from Learning Options in Manuka. The Hudson Private and Corporate Sector Award went to Janine Yokom from Westpac in Belconnen. Janine has an extraordinary life story. A back injury forced her to close her nail technician business. That opened a new opportunity for her to become leader of a team that is now recognised as one of the best performing among its peers. Joining Westpac as a bank teller in 1997, she was appointed local bank branch manager for the Belconnen area in 2006.

I also want to acknowledge White Pages Community and Government Award winner Robyn Walker; Nokia Business Innovation Award winner Barbara Reid from the ACT government Health Directorate in Woden; and Marie Claire Young Business Women’s Award winner Julie McKay from UN Women Australia. Julie's work with UN Women reminds us that so many of the challenges that talented women face around the world are bigger still than they are in Australia: the 'missing girls' that have been documented in so many developing countries; the awful discrimination that many women suffer and violence that women face in war zones from the Congo to Afghanistan. Of course, one of the main reasons that Australia is in Afghanistan is to ensure that young women in Afghanistan have the opportunities that are rightfully theirs.

In closing, let me pay tribute to the government's decision to remove gender discrimination in our armed forces and to acknowledge that, in deciding who goes into combat operations, ability rather than gender will be the sole requirement.

Thanks to Terese Corkish for putting me onto Fine's fine book, which I'd thoroughly recommend.

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Cnr Gungahlin Pl and Efkarpidis Street, Gungahlin ACT 2912 | 02 6247 4396 | [email protected] | Authorised by A. Leigh MP, Australian Labor Party (ACT Branch), Canberra.