Michelle and her wife’s wedding shoes. The silver ones are Michelle’s

You can find these shoes in…

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

 

They belong to…

“I am 53 years young, born and bred in Australia, a gender equality advocate and expert as well as being a board director, wife, mother, sister, daughter and friend.”

 

What it’s like to walk in her shoes for a day…

“My entire life is focussed on advancing women and I have a portfolio of business interests, including my three enterprises and two board roles. On any given day I can be found either advising or guiding industry leaders about how to break the barriers that prevent inclusive, gender balanced workplaces, advocating and speaking out about advancing more women in sports leadership, performing my role as a director in a Microfinance organisation that helps break the poverty cycle for women and girls in Australia, writing, on social media, and speaking engagements. My days are full, my life is fulfilled because every single day I am living my purpose. I always cap off my days with my wonderful wife who is my life-force, guiding light and absolutely the best person in the world.”

b

Growing up in her shoes she was…

“I was parented my two people who did not put limits in place for me or my two sisters. We were encouraged to do well at school, think about the future and to contribute to the community. I cannot recall being aware that girls couldn’t do anything, despite the fact that I grew up in the 1970’s & 80’s.

b

Her biggest challenges day-to-day…

I face less challenges than many women because I am mature, influential and Anglo-Celtic. I choose to use my influence, and the doors that are open to me, to advance women who have not yet had the opportunities that I have had, and who face barriers that either I don’t face, or have overcome. There is no doubt that Australia falls well short of desired standards for all women economically, politically and socially. However if you re a woman who identifies as Aboriginal, Gay, Gender Diverse, Culturally Diverse or Disabled, then the barriers and challenges are significant. These are the women whose voices I need to amplify so they can reach their full potential.

b

What are the advantages of being a woman in the 21st Century?

The growing awareness of the need for gender equality is creating platforms for change. The #CelebratingWomen #MeToo and #TimesUp movement across social media have demonstrated that there is much to be done but much to be celebrated in being a woman and that there are many many millions of us ready to support and advance each other. There is a critical time arriving that will mean women are equal and I am determined to see that occur in my lifetime. The advantages for women in the 21st century is no doubt the technology that enables connections across geographies, access to research, news and advances in policy and process to evolve and accelerate gender equality.

b

One thing you should know if you’re going to walk in her shoes…

I wish that all people, particularly those that have unearned priviliege (based in their gender, race and sexual identity) would know what it is like to be ‘other’. I wish that those groups of people would take the time to invoke curiosity and empathy for people not like them and then use that awareness to start to be kinder, more compassionate, more considerate and more inclusive. When this happens, the world, workplaces, sporting fields and homes will be much much better off.

b

Flashbulb memories (s) or what it’s really like to walk in her shoes…

Just one?

I claimed feminism a few years back, viably and vocally. But only after hearing a woman I admire talk about it. Don’t get me wrong, I am a feminist from the core and always have been, however I am an ordinary woman who like many other women, has sometimes carefully chosen when and where to claim and voice my feminism. I’ve chosen consciously and subconsciously to have varied approaches to my feminist beliefs throughout my life and career. My choices have been anchored in how safe the environment was or how prudent it was to express my beliefs. So the expression of my views about feminism have always been with a healthy dose of self-preservation in mind.

I grew up believing myself to be equal. Thanks in no small measure to my mother, who as the mother of three women, knew that we WERE equal and that we had the right to do whatever we wanted to do. But then I grew up and entered the world of work, men, society and peer pressure. And so began my four stages of feminism.

This is where that woman I admire comes in. Holly Kramer (Best & Less, Ford Motor Company, PBL, Telstra, and Pacific Brands) spoke about her career and life journey at a conference I attended a few years ago. Then Holly talked about the four stages of feminism and she had me mesmerised, nodding my head vigorously as she could have been describing my life.

The four stages of feminism perfectly captured how I grew up and into feminism.

Stage 1 Oblivion: I am a relatively privileged, educated young white western 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 an issue for 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 40 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 quota’s wherever I can. I am taking matters into my own hands by running three businesses, managing a board career and a professional brand about 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. Hearing Holly’s story reinforced my growing need to take my business and activism to the next level by staying outraged, but making sure I use my position, my power, my influence to speak and advocate on behalf of all women.

b

Final thoughts:

If it’s to be, it’s up to me. Words that guide me every single day. “It’s” in this case is global gender equality. But I can’t do it alone. Please help me.


Hey you, can you relate to Michelle’s story? Do you have a favorite quote or thought? Share it in the comments

 

How about YOUR shoes?

“This story, it is unique, it is hers and it tells you something about being a woman in the 21st century.

If you identify as a woman, your story is just as important. CLICK HERE to get the questions and be part of our story, history and  Her-story.”

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