Be confident, be bold, be ambitious, and believe in yourself – that is the message Tasmania’s female leaders want to get across to all young women.
In a world of firsts, of achievements, and of diversity, we still have a long way to go before we truly reach gender equality in the workforce.
But the state’s leaders have sent out their own words of encouragement to the next generation of female employees, and it is a message of belief, support and motivation.
Earlier this year, a Senate Inquiry into Women's Economic Security in Retirement was established in an attempt to address the significant superannuation gap facing women today.
According to a submission from the Workplace Gender Equality Agency, the gender retirement superannuation gap remains at 46.6 per cent, with men, on average, retiring with $92,000 more in their superannuation accounts than women.
The agency found that at every stage in a man’s career, from the age of 20 onwards, they are more likely to have more money in their superannuation than women.
According to Australian Bureau of Statistics data, in 2016, the average weekly earnings for males was $1457, compared to $1010 for females.
Legal professor Kate Warner was named the first ever female Governor of Tasmania in 2014.
Since that day, and in her previous roles, Her Excellency has been a strong advocate for equality and for the rights of women.
“When a young woman has a woman as her school principal, when in Tasmania the Leader of the Opposition is a woman, the Speaker of the House is a woman, the Lord Mayor is a woman, Australia’s Foreign Minister is a woman and the leader of Europe’s largest country in economic terms is a woman, we see that the possibilities of women in leadership roles are no longer unthinkable,” Her Excellency said.
But she said there was still much more to be done to encourage women into leadership roles.
“There does seem to be a difference between males and females in having confidence about their abilities, including the ability to lead, so we need to encourage women to put themselves forward,” Her Excellency said.
“We also need to recognise a diversity of leadership styles and to accept that while there is room for bold and loud leaders, this is not the only type and we should equally value the quiet, less extroverted style of leadership.”
She added that flexible work practices needed to become more acceptable, both for men and women, and until this happened, the expectation that women have primary responsibility for childcare and housework would be an obstacle.
For any young women wanting to take on a leadership role, Her Excellency offered some wise words of encouragement.
“Start by making the most of all the educational opportunities you can and develop your leadership skills on the way, including by doing some public speaking,” she said.
“And remember that leadership is not necessarily about position or power, it’s about saying things that need to be said, by standing up for issues and people you believe in.”
Last year, the Australian Taxation Office released data on the highest paid professions in the nation, with male neurosurgeons taking out the top spot, earning an average of $577,674 on an annual basis.
The data showed that even at the very top end of the scale, women were earning less, with the top paid spot for a female, a judge, earning an average of $355,844 each year – more than $200,000 less each year than the top earning men.
But even in the more traditionally male-dominated professions, positive change is starting to take place.
When Donna Adams was appointed to the role of Tasmania Police Assistant Commissioner in 2011, she became the highest ranking female officer in the state’s history.
It was in 1917 that Kate Campbell became the first female police officer to be appointed in Tasmania, and now exactly one century later, almost one third of the police force are female.
In 2014, Ms Adams was rewarded for her leadership skills when she was named Tasmanian Telstra Business Woman of the Year and the joint winner of the national Telstra Business Women Innovation Award.
She is how working as the Department of Police and Emergency Management deputy secretary, and Ms Adams said when she first embarked on her career, she knew she had to seize as many learning opportunities as she could.
“I wanted to continuously develop my skills and expose myself to opportunities to develop,” she said.
“I made sure I was aware of the things I wasn’t particularly strong at and then turned them into strengths, which means you have to open yourself up to some really honest feedback.”
Looking back at the past 30 years, Ms Adams said a lot had changed in Tasmania Police to encourage more women to succeed.
“About 31 per cent of our organisation are women and we’ve got women working in patrol cars together in all of our specialist groups,” she said.
“The thing that we’re slightly lacking and the area of focus for us at the moment is around women in senior leadership roles and we’re providing a lot of professional development and support around that.
“We’ve promoted a number of female inspectors over the last two or three years and there’s a great deal of pride around seeing those women achieve those ranks.”
Ms Adams said one obstacle that needed to be addressed, not just in the policing sector, was around flexibility and the challenges women might face if they take time away from work to raise children.
But her advice for all young women was to have confidence and work hard.
“If we actually look at what defines merit, that shouldn’t become an issue because merit shouldn’t just be all about the skills you’ve been able to acquire,” Ms Adams said.
“It can be about your potential and your aptitude for the job.”