ABC presenter Virginia Trioli speaking at the Women in Media conference.
ABC presenter Virginia Trioli speaking at the Women in Media conference.

Word that will help women beat men

THE thing about women is we all too often say no.

No to that job opportunity because we don't tick one of the boxes.

No to that event we really want to go to because we decide we should be at home with the family.

No to a promotion because we simply don't think we can cut it.

But leading women across the country have called on women to start saying yes.

Emma MacDonald, of HerCanberra, said her one regret when she turned 40 and started saying yes was that she did not start doing so when she was 30.

Here these women share their advice to others trying to make it in the workforce, and what advice they would give to their 20-year-old selves.


Virginia Trioli, ABC presenter

If you think you don't have the organisational and executive function skills required for any job you tick even three of the boxes for - you are wrong.

To represent yourself properly within your own working life, you need to take stock every now and again of what you do well and what you could better - your very own performance appraisal, if you like.

If one thing has stood me in good stead over the last 28 years, it has been a deliberate decision to periodically sit down and take inventory of what I'm doing well, what I need to improve, where the gaps in my skill set and knowledge base are and how I need to fill them.

I'd urge you to do it too. If it helps, find someone you know, admire, and trust, and who knows your work well, and ask them to do this exercise with you.

Never be afraid of self-scrutiny. Don't wait for someone who doesn't have your best interests at heart to point out your shortcomings - get there first and do something about them.

Listen to that voice inside that knows exactly what it is that you really want to do, but is being drowned out by the white noise of what you think you ought to be doing.

That little statistic about how women will only go for a job if they meet all the listed criteria, whereas men will apply even if they only meet a handful, has become something of a cliche.

But, like all good cliches, it persists because it contains a truth. Women - all of us - persistently underrate our abilities.


Jennifer Spilsbury, Cairns Post first female editor

Don't kid yourself, you make mistakes every day. The important thing is to learn from your mistakes.

Try to learn from them because you'll make them all the time. I make mistakes all the time, but I learn from them.

What have we got to lose? If someone doesn't like your idea you are not going to get sacked over that.

Jennifer Spilsbury knows how to make it to the top of your industry.
Jennifer Spilsbury knows how to make it to the top of your industry.

Dr Kirstin Ferguson, non-executive director and chair

We need to forget the ladder. It only helps up one woman at a time and even then they have to hold on for dear life. We need to throw down a fishing net.

Throw down a fishing net, not a ladder, to help all women succeed. My biggest regret was not doing that 30 years ago.

Every women is a role model to someone, even if they don't know it.

No one can give you confidence.


Di Farmer, Queensland Minister for Child Safety, Youth and Women

My biggest challenge has been balancing a political career with being a mother

If you want something, go for it, even if you don't think you can do it. Please go for it.

Put your hand up, take opportunities.

Be that person who is purposeful and put your hand up - because blokes will do it.

Boys are arsey - be that. Whatever your barrier is, there is a women in front of you that has climbed that barrier.


Kay McGrath, Channel 7 presenter

Our biggest challenges come from within … that critical inner voice. We should help each other with that … we should be thinking "yes I can" rather than "am I up for it?".


Kay McGrath, pictured with Di Farmer, says women need to help each other out. Picture: Peter Wallis
Kay McGrath, pictured with Di Farmer, says women need to help each other out. Picture: Peter Wallis

Emma Macdonald, author and HerCanberra associate editor

When I turned 40 I decided to say yes to everything. All the speeches, all the travel. A new world opened up to me. Have courage and just do it.

Put yourself out there no matter how uncomfortable it feels, and it gets easier.

Don't over-think, don't assume you don't have the skills, take the opportunities.


Narelda Jacobs, Channel 10 presenter

It's hard to have the confidence and to back yourself - my main message is really just to back yourself. Sharing your emotions is something we should all embrace. You think it's a weakness, but it shows courage.

Empathy and intuition counts for a lot. Back yourself, you deserve to be there.


Caroline Jones, ABC legend

Be good at what you do. Be the best you can be at what you do. If you need it, do some assertiveness training, so you know how to stand up to yourself, how to say no if you need, and build up your confidence.

Learn how to say no, back yourself, read good literature, treasure your friends, don't waste precious time on people who are no good for you.


Caroline Jones has more than 50 years experience in the media industry to share with other women.
Caroline Jones has more than 50 years experience in the media industry to share with other women.

Kate McClymont, Fairfax investigative journalist

If you don't have confidence, for God's sake, fake it. Confidence is about perceptions. Just say to yourself "yes I can".

The moment someone threatens me I go twice as hard.

Men are four times more likely to ask for a pay rise. That means they're four times more likely to get a pay rise.

The next generation has to be bolder. It's no good waiting to be recognised.


Antionette Lattouf, Channel 10 presenter and founder of Media Diversity Australia

I had my first daughter when I was 27. When I told my colleagues, they looked at me like I was Juno (from the movie about a pregnant teen).

Having children isn't going to be the end of your career, no matter what anyone says. It doesn't make you irrelevant.

I'm OK if you don't like me personally, but professionally I want you to respect my work.

There's a perception that women - especially culturally diverse ones - are super junior.

We talk about diversity as a key part of our ethos but we need to do better.

It's OK to say I don't know or I need more time. Sometimes I felt that it showed ineptitude to not meet a deadline … I would get consumed by the rat race. I was too eager to please and to do it quickly.

Surround yourself with people who inspire and support you.


These women spoke at the Women in Media conference hosted at Bond University on the Gold Coast. Additional reporting by Emily Bradfield, Dinushka Gunasekara and Niamh Sullivan.

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