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Thursday, 7 March 2019

Today we globally celebrate International Women’s Day and acknowledge the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women – while also encouraging the acceleration of gender parity.

Council was lucky enough to have Tracey Spicer AM as guest speaker at a special breakfast this morning.

We caught up with her and asked her a few questions about why women’s issue are close to her heart and her reason for backing this great cause.

What is the significance of this year’s theme #BalanceforBetter?
It’s all about creating better balance both at home and in the workplace.

Men increasingly want to be hands-on at home with their kids, instead of toiling long hours in old-fashioned workplaces. Similarly, women want real support to be able to achieve their career goals, whether that’s through flexibility, sponsorship, or mandated targets.

That’s why I firmly believe that equality is good for everyone, regardless of gender.

How long have you been supporting IWD?
For many decades. I was fortunate to grow up with a very strong mother, and a father who believed in a fair go for all.

Mum was one of the first female courier drivers in Queensland, an achievement the newspaper remarked upon with the headline, “Who would have thought? Women can drive after all!” We’ve come a long way since then.

Has there been any gender parity in the course of your career?
I write about this in my book, The Good Girl Stripped Bare. When I started my career in journalism around 30 years ago, women were predominantly seen as decorative items in the newsroom. They were valued for their appearance, rather than what was in their hearts or heads. I was told that, “People think blondes are stupid”, and encouraged to “Stick my tits out more” as I read the news. At contract negotiation time I was told that I wouldn’t need a pay rise because, “You’ll just do this job until you meet a nice man, and then you’ll never have to work another day in your life.

However, I also had wonderful male mentors like John Campbell, who encouraged me to continue with the job, and ignore the naysayers.

In recent years, I’ve worked for a series of female bosses, which shows that times are indeed changing, however; there is still a large gender pay gap, and overall a lack of women in senior leadership.

How have you managed to rise above gender parity?
I can’t bear to witness injustice, so I try to challenge the system.

More than a decade ago, I took court action over maternity discrimination against Network Ten.

Over the past 18 months, I’ve worked on investigative pieces about Don Burke, among others, to continue the momentum of the #metoo movement in Australia.

I’m fortunate to have a very loving family, who support me unconditionally. And, when things get too much, I hop on my paddle board and head to Shelly Beach!

What do you believe are the challenges facing women these days?
Violence against women is the biggest issue facing women today, particularly those from marginalised communities.

Serial sexual harassment has forced generations of women from the workforce, and the rates of indecent assault mean many women fear walking the streets.

Then there’s the fact that one woman is murdered every week by her current or former partner.

The root of this is gender inequality, and the abuse of power and privilege.

What is your advice for these women?
There is strength in numbers. We are living through the most powerful wave of social change since the 60s/70s.

My advice is to find your tribe, seek solidarity in grassroots women’s groups like The Sisterhood, and support your local women’s shelters.

What are your hopes for the future regarding equal rights for women?
I hope to live to see true equality, not only when it comes to gender.

When the Suffragettes in the UK won the right for women to vote, it was only for those with property.

Within this wave of intersectional feminism, we must never forget to bring everyone along, especially those with little societal power.