Empowering women to stand tall in leadership positions and ensuring women are visible in dominant roles was a clear message taken home from the International Women’s Day functions in Scone and Murrurundi last Thursday.
About 30 women gathered at the Scone Neighbourhood Centre to listen to guest speaker - the University of New England acting Pro Vice Chancellor Academic, Professor Alison Sheridan.
An Armidale resident of 26 years, Professor Sheridan shared lessons learnt throughout her 25 years’ experience in high profile management positions, including holding board positions on the Northern Inland Regional Development Board from 2003 to 2007, the Australian and New Zealand Academy of Management from 2003 to 2009, including President in 2008, and is currently a board member of the Community Mutual Group.
The 2014 International Women’s Day - March 8 - theme was ‘Inspiring Change’ and the inspirational woman definitely encouraged women to change the old notions of women’s roles in business and the workplace.
Professor Sheridan focused on inspiring change in women’s leadership in Australia, explaining three significant projects she has been involved in including women in small business in Armidale, women on regional development boards and the missed opportunities report update which quantifies women’s contributions to rural communities.
Professor Sheridan said she believes it is important to ensure regional communities thrive and she thinks women play a crucial role in this.
“People need to know that 50 per cent of the total value output attributed to farming communities comes from women, however it must also be noted the difficulties women face in having their businesses recognised,” she said.
“All women should pursue important leadership roles and challenging the hierarchy between genders is something we need to be vigilant about.
“It is important for events like International Women’s Day to make women’s contributions visible.”
Professor Sheridan emphasised the need for women to be prepared to challenge the traditional ideas and remind people of the inequities that exist.
The women were spoiled with several pieces of music played by the Upper Hunter Conservatorium of Music Clarinet ensemble including Janelle French, Barbara Turvey and Nat Catzikiris, and a lovely afternoon tea.
Professor Sheridan also spoke at an event at the White Hart Hotel last Thursday evening, where the Murrurundi Public School Senior Girls’ Choir and Murratones also delighted the audience with a performance.
Upper Hunter Shire mayor Michael Johnsen said Professor Sheridan offered inspirational insights into the importance of valuing all the work women do.
“International Women’s Day is an opportunity to celebrate local women who are good role models, leaders, good friends and good neighbours,” Cr Johnsen said.
“They contribute to community groups, volunteering, caring for friends and family, and making Murrurundi and the Upper Hunter Shire a better place for us all.”