Diversity in Leadership

Diversity in Leadership: Australian women, past and present

Joy Damousi
Kim Rubenstein
Mary Tomsic
Copyright Date: 2014
Published by: ANU Press
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  • Book Info
    Diversity in Leadership
    Book Description:

    While leadership is an over-used term today, how it is defined for women and the contexts in which it emerges remains elusive. Moreover, women are exhorted to exercise leadership, but occupying leadership positions has its challenges. Issues of access, acceptable behaviour and the development of skills to be successful leaders are just some of them.

    eISBN: 978-1-925021-71-4
    Subjects: Sociology, Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Introduction
    (pp. 1-14)
    Joy Damousi and Mary Tomsic

    Prime Minister Julia Gillard spoke passionately in Parliament on 9 October 2012. Many people around the world took notice of what has come to be called her ‘Misogyny Speech’. By the following day, footage of the speech had been viewed more than 300,000 times online, ‘Gillard’ was one of the top trending words on Twitter and newspaper headlines around the globe reported the speech.³ Just more than one year later, the video clip on YouTube had been viewed more than 2.5 million times. This speech was clearly ‘heard around the world’.⁴ The Liberian peace activist and Nobel Peace Prize laureate...

  4. Part I. Feminist perspectives and leadership
    • 1. A feminist case for leadership
      (pp. 17-36)
      Amanda Sinclair

      On 10 October 2012, Australia’s then Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, addressed the Australian Parliament in response to a motion put by Opposition Leader Tony Abbott. While the motion concerned the future of disgraced Speaker, Peter Slipper, Gillard’s speech was a call to, and invocation of, feminist leadership. Gillard used the occasion to draw attention to a concerted campaign of misogynistic, sexist attacks from the Opposition and some of their associates, not just towards herself but also towards Australian women in general.

      Julia Gillard’s speech followed earlier concerns expressed by prominent feminists—for example, Moira Rayner and Anne Summers—about the...

  5. Part II. Indigenous women’s leadership
    • 2. Guthadjaka and Garŋgulkpuy: Indigenous women leaders in Yolngu, Australia-wide and international contexts
      (pp. 39-52)
      Gwenda Baker, Joanne Garŋgulkpuy and Kathy Guthadjaka

      This chapter explores the extraordinary growth in political leadership over the past 30 years among Indigenous women from a remote community. It is representative of a wider Australian phenomenon: the intense participation in democratic affairs by Indigenous women. These are two women from among many more: there are others who are participating at a similar level in this and other communities in the Northern Territory and elsewhere within Australia.

      Guthadjaka and Garŋgulkpuy are two Yolngu women leaders from Elcho Island in the Northern Territory, a small island 500 km north-east of Darwin. Geographically isolated, they occupy a difficult space in...

    • 3. Aunty Pearl Gibbs: Leading for Aboriginal rights
      (pp. 53-68)
      Rachel Standfield, Ray Peckham and John Nolan

      This chapter explores the work of Pearl Gibbs throughout her exemplary career as an activist and tireless campaigner for Aboriginal rights and democracy in Australia from the 1930s until her death in 1983. Pearl’s activism on a national level is well documented in the historiography of Aboriginal politics and campaigns for Aboriginal rights, because of her role as a member of the 1930s Aboriginal campaigns for rights and as a member of the Aborigines Progressive Association and their ‘Day of Mourning’ campaign for Aboriginal citizenship in 1938,³ as well as her later roles within women’s organisations and working with other...

  6. Part III. Local and global politics
    • 4. Women’s International leadership
      (pp. 71-90)
      Marilyn Lake

      Internationalism as both ideal and practice exerted a powerful appeal for Australian women activists in the twentieth century even as they moved to the forefront of world history in winning full political rights at the national and State levels at home. These developments were interrelated. Australian women initially presented themselves to international audiences—and were received—as leaders of the world’s women, as pioneers of democratic rights, able to report on their unique experience as politically empowered women and show the way forward.²

      In 1893, Catherine Spence and Margaret Windeyer joined hundreds of American and European women gathered at the...

    • 5. The big stage: Australian women leading global change
      (pp. 91-108)
      Susan Harris Rimmer

      The founding mother of the Australian feminist internationalist movement must be Jessie Street (1889–1970). Street was a role model for all those who came after her, due to the way she saw the possibilities of using the international system in the fight against discrimination. A founder of the UN Commission for the Status of Women, amongst many other achievements, she had infinite energy as a campaigner.

      This chapter assesses some of the contributions of Australian women who have been successful in promoting social change using international forums in the 30 years after Jessie Street’s work, particularly at the United...

    • 6. ‘All our strength, all our kindness and our love’: Bertha McNamara, bookseller, socialist, feminist and parliamentary aspirant
      (pp. 109-128)
      Michael Richards

      In the foyer of Trades Hall, Sydney, there is a brass plaque with an image of a woman. The inscription on it reads:

      Bertha McNamara

      kindly and gracious in her splendid way

      She knew no nationhood

      And her religion each and every day

      Was that of doing good.

      Jammed up against it when I last visited was a fire hose reel.

      Who was Bertha McNamara? A memorial notice printed after her death in 1931 called her ‘The Mother of the Australian Labor Movement’ and Labor’s ‘Grand Old Lady’, mentioned that she was the mother-in-law of Jack Lang and Henry Lawson,...

    • 7. Moderate and mainstream: Leadership in the National Council of Women of Australia, 1930s–1970s
      (pp. 129-148)
      Judith Smart and Marian Quartly

      A major step in the development of women’s activism and civic awareness in Australia was the formation of National Councils of Women in all States between 1896 and 1910, culminating in the emergence of the Federated Councils in 1924–25 and the National Council of Women of Australia (NCWA) in 1931.³ Linked to the International Council of Women (ICW), and through it first to the League of Nations and later the United Nations, the council movement provided, in the words of one of its early leaders, a conduit for mainstream Australian women’s organisations and their members to ‘accomplish good, useful,...

    • 8. ‘Part of the human condition’: Women in the Australian disability rights movement
      (pp. 149-166)
      Nikki Henningham

      People with disabilities form the largest minority in Australia and are amongst the nation’s most disadvantaged people, with substandard outcomes on most indicators of community participation andwellbeing.² Despite this, most people tend not to think of disability rights as a political issue, as they do feminism or the struggle for Aboriginal self-determination. Instead, they tend to perceive disability as a personal problem to be overcome. Does this oversight stem from a collective fear of disability since everyone is a candidate for it? As Doris Fleischer and Frieda Zames observe, ‘“[h]andicapism” … is the only “ism” to which all human...

  7. Part IV. Leadership and the professions
    • 9. Female factory inspectors and leadership in early twentieth-century Australia
      (pp. 169-188)
      Joy Damousi

      In her memoirs published in 1921, the British factory inspector Adelaide Anderson recalled what drew her to the ‘calling’ of inspection. The ‘idealizing powers of youth … embarking on a calling that involved conduct of legal proceedings and much other technical knowledge of an entirely novel kind for women of that day, counted for much’, she recalled. There were also the ‘authority and powers to enquire into and enforce remedies for wrong conditions, or to persuade sympathetic employers to provide amenities that the law could not enforce’, which were other appealing aspects of the role. It was unusual for a...

    • 10. From philanthropy to social entrepreneurship
      (pp. 189-206)
      Shurlee Swain

      If leadership, as Amanda Sinclair argues in this volume, is to be defined in terms of the ability to influence and change the public agenda and improve the life experiences of people both in the present and in the future then philanthropy provides an excellent field in which to explore its application to women. Philanthropy, in its nineteenth-century usage, encompassed both the giving of money and the giving of time in the service of others. While women seldom commanded large fortunes, they were able to give of their time both to the administration of charitable institutions and to the provision...

    • 11. Academic women and research leadership in twentieth-century Australia
      (pp. 207-236)
      Patricia Grimshaw and Rosemary Francis

      While the focus of analysis of leadership in tertiary institutions is most commonly the capacities of the most senior academic administrators, many academics at less elevated levels in the hierarchy also can exert major influence in their disciplinary areas that has significant impact nationally and internationally. This chapter offers an insight into Australian women’s leadership in the academic profession in the twentieth century through the careers of outstanding scholars who from the mid 1950s were elected fellows of the Australian learned academies. Women faced considerable barriers to employment in universities before the expansion of secondary and tertiary education in the...

  8. Part V. Women and culture
    • 12. Beyond the glass ceiling: The material culture of women’s political leadership
      (pp. 239-252)
      Libby Stewart

      In October 1992 a female federal Australian senator made headlines after she displayed a poster that depicted a woman with a smoking gun over the caption ‘so many men, so few bullets’ in her Parliament House office window. In one newspaper article, titled ‘Make My Day’, it was reported that Parliament House authorities had received complaints that the poster in question was offensive, and asked for it to be removed.² The senator in question, Jocelyn Newman, was a senior parliamentarian from the conservative side of politics who was making a strong statement in favour of women’s representation in an overwhelmingly...

    • 13. Entertaining children: The 1927 Royal Commission on the Motion Picture Industry as a site of women’s leadership
      (pp. 253-268)
      Mary Tomsic

      Mrs John Jones, president of the Victorian Women’s Citizen Movement, presented the above evidence to the Royal Commission on the Moving Picture Industry in Australia in 1927.² Jones compared the exploited children with exploited ‘natives’—both presumably requiring protection in the form of benevolent control. And it was a particular type and class of woman who could provide such control and guidance. For the women reformers, and also men, who appeared before the commission, the cinema was understood as a public arena in which a novel visual language was spoken. The relative accessibility of the cinema to all classes of...

    • 14. Women’s leadership in writers’ associations
      (pp. 269-280)
      Susan Sheridan

      In thinking about women, leadership and literature, I have passed up the opportunity to celebrate writers like Henry Handel Richardson, Christina Stead and Judith Wright, whose creative achievements call for the discourse of heroic individualism. Rather, in accord with the feminist challenges to conventional concepts of leadership outlined by Amanda Sinclair’s leading chapter in this book, I looked for women who have sought to influence public opinion about literary matters and advocate in various ways for writers. In Australia women’s literary activism of this kind includes furthering the cause of Australian literature, as Miles Franklin did throughout her life, or...

  9. Part VI. Movements for social change
    • 15. Collectivism, consensus and concepts of shared leadership in movements for social change
      (pp. 283-300)
      Marian Sawer and Merrindahl Andrew

      In the 1970s, ‘leadership’ was a dirty word for many in the women’s movement. Journalists trying to find a ‘spokesman’ complained of how upset women became if they were labelled as leaders. Leadership was associated with hierarchy and hierarchy was seen as inextricably linked with the patriarchal domination of women. To liberate themselves from patriarchy, women were trying to organise without hierarchy, through collectives and networks. Instead of there being leaders and followers, women would empower themselves through taking responsibility for decisions, which would be reached by consensus.

      At first there were attempts not only to resist the idea of...

    • 16. Passionate defenders, accidental leaders: Women in the Australian environment movement
      (pp. 301-312)
      Jane Elix and Judy Lambert

      The environment movement, like many other social change movements, is not easy to define or delineate. Individuals within a movement may hold extremely diverse views on goals, strategies and even philosophies, but ‘a shared sense of moral outrage’³ builds alliances within and between the different organisations that form part of the environment movement.

      Women have been active in seeking protection of the environment since Federation and even before 1900. Those in the historical record include Georgiana Molloy (1805–43) and Elizabeth Gould (1804–41), both of whom played a significant role in supporting the scientific endeavours of their male colleagues,...

    • 17. Consuming interests: Women’s leadership in Australia’s consumer movement
      (pp. 313-330)
      Jane Elix and Kate Moore

      Political consumerism is on the rise. It is a form of activism in which women have played significant roles at least since the eighteenth century. They continue to do so today.

      This chapter describes female leadership in the emergence and growth of the modern consumer movement, and in particular the health consumer movement. It is a sector in which women play many leading roles in different ways, according to their own preferences and values and to the circumstances in which leadership is needed. It is a sector that amply demonstrates the need for a broader understanding and reconceptualisation of leadership,...

  10. Conclusion: Gender and leadership
    (pp. 331-334)
    Joy Damousi and Mary Tomsic

    We began this volume with quotations from Julia Gillard, Australia’s first female prime minister (2010–13), and Australia’s first female governor-general, Quentin Bryce (2010–14). During the course of preparing this volume of essays, both positions have now been occupied by men—respectively, Tony Abbott and Peter Cosgrove. Time will tell whether the fact that women occupied the most powerful positions in the country in the early twenty-first century was an aberration in relation to what went before or whether we will see this elevation of women to the seat of power once again. This is a vital question and...

  11. Epilogue: Reflections on women and leadership through the prism of citizenship
    (pp. 335-340)
    Kim Rubenstein

    Looking at questions about women and leadership also provides an excellent frame through which to reflect upon the way women leaders have expressed their citizenship. The word ‘citizenship’ is an important term to think about from the experience of women, and I begin these concluding comments by explaining what I mean when using the term. I am also interested to conclude this collection by asking: what does this tell us about women leaders as citizens?

    The term citizenship is used in a range of interdisciplinary contexts. Different discussions occur when thinking of citizenship as a legal formal notion, compared with...