During this quest we are on to advance gender equality, we have met many amazing, talented, executive women and female entrepreneurs. One who stands out in the crowd is Michelle Redfern. Comfortable in her own skin, with an intellectual executive presence honed in corporate board rooms, she is also 100% authentically herself. Michelle manages to be simultaneously inspiring, informative, strategic, humorous and inclusive. She radiates positive life force and it is easy to see why people gravitate to join her networking group Women Who Get It (WWGI).
We asked Michelle to contribute a guest post on gender equality. She had educated us when we last met about the four stages of feminism. We thought you would also enjoy Michelle’s pearls of wisdom….
The Oxford dictionary defines feminism as “The advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes.”
I grew up believing myself to be equal
Thanks in no small measure to my Mum (Love you Veronica) who, as a feisty feminist and the mother of three girls, knew that we WERE equal and that we had the right to do whatever we wanted to do. Then I grew up and entered the world of work, men, society and peer pressure. And so began the four stages of feminism.
I can’t take credit for the four stages of feminism. I must credit Holly Kramer (Best & Less, Ford Motor Company, PBL, Telstra, and Pacific Brands) who I heard speak about her career and life journey at a conference earlier this year. When Holly talked about her four stages of feminism, she had me mesmerised and nodding my head vigorously. She could have been describing my life.
Stage 1 Oblivion: I am a privileged, educated young white woman with the world at her feet. I have choices laid out in front of me, I will be self sufficient and conquer the world. What inequality problem? Of course the way is mine to have. Feminism? Inequality? Bias? Huh! Not me!
Stage 2 Awareness: Wow, women are just not being treated equally. You just have to be part of the boys club. What a shame. But hey, things are going great for me, so no sweat right?
Stage 3 Outrage: You’re joking!! Why are there no women on that board? How is it that I get paid 27% less than men? Why do I have to organise all the cleaning, caring and cooking, on top of a full time career? Why is Australia not even in the top 20 nations for gender equality? Where are all the female policy makers? Why wasn’t I considered for the top job?
Stage 4 Advocacy (with a healthy dose of resignation): OK, so its time to stop sitting back and admiring the problem. I will only buy from female owned or companies who have gender equal boards and executive teams. I will advocate strongly for quotas wherever I can. I am taking matters into my own hands by building a business, a career and a personal brand linked wholly and solely to advancing women. I will open the hatch, extend my hand and help shatter the glass ceiling into a million pieces.
I hover between outrage and advocacy on a daily basis
However what I have also learned in recent times is to never let a crisis go to waste. And we are in a crisis. Women are not equal. They should be. I’m not going to spout more statistics to you. What I do is take action, each and every time the opportunity arises.
I am a feminist
When I start a conversation, when I introduce myself to a new person, people or gathering, I ALWAYS state my reason for being. I make sure that my audience (whether its one person or one thousand) hears my all time favourite F Word. Feminist. Because it starts a conversation and even debate. Which is healthy because then comes awareness. With awareness comes action. With action comes change. So to honour great women like my mother, like Holly Kramer, like Hillary Clinton, like Gloria Steinhem and many many more…I loudly and proudly claim my all time favourite F Word. Feminism.
Michelle is founder of Advancing Women in Business and Sport, which specialises in providing advisory services and events for women and specialist business improvement consulting. Michelle is also the founder of Women Who Get It (WWGI) and co-founder of social enterprise CDW (Culturally Diverse Women). Michelle’s businesses are all anchored in her mission which is to achieve gender diversity and to advance women in business and the sporting sector. Michelle is a Non- Executive Director for Williamstown VFL Football Club, and Good Shepherd Microfinance. In addition, Michelle is an in-demand speaker, moderator and MC at conferences, leadership forums and diversity events.
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