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Queensland Government Think-ins

Planning WOW 2018

On Friday 14 July, around a hundred women (and a couple of men) from the Queensland Public Service took part in a day’s discussions and networking events to help plan WOW 2018.

The task they were given? To help plan the content of WOW 2018 – to identify the gender issues of concern in their lives, and to identify speakers and performers they would like to see, things they would like to learn, and the legacy they want the Festival to leave.

So what were the issues and ideas?  It’s no surprise, perhaps, that women in the Public Service reflect the concerns of women everywhere: financial literacy and managing your own financial security; gender stereotyping and unconscious bias about the capacities and appropriate roles of girls and boys, women and men; the need to start really early, and be aware of the power of language, if we are to raise girls and boys equally; violence against women, and the tacit excuses our culture makes for male perpetrators; how women are portrayed in the media, and indeed may choose to portray themselves, especially in social media; the uneven distribution of household and family caring tasks.

Work-related issues are clearly important: finding and hearing from the male leaders who are really making change happen and ways of holding the others to account; “starting over” – the many ways women have to manage interruptions to their personal and working/earning lives (and superannuation payments), leading to poverty and even homelessness in later life; organisations and leaders that pay lip-service to flexible work but maintain a culture which makes that impossible; how to stop being a “good girl” and assume the power that goes with a leadership position.

And some more particular insights:

  • let’s talk frankly about the place of alcohol in Australian culture and its role in such matters as family relationships, violence in the home and outside, hyper-masculine role models and behaviours
  • let’s learn to value and take care of ourselves, and while we’re at it, let’s teach our girls this important lesson:  to see what a good relationship is; to know a good workplace; to know our rights inside and outside the home;  to learn to setboundaries we are comfortable with, not just to please others
  • let’s try to understand what the technology revolution means for women, the disruption of work, transport, financial systems, and everyday life that is upon us now
  • how physical health underpins mental well-being
  • the importance of good dads.

Things to learn? How to call out everyday sexism; Bollywood and African dancing; how to use power-tools; the rules of all the football codes; how to project your voice; how to crochet granny squares; how to develop the ”hard” skills – strategy, finance, negotiation; how to change your mindset so it works for you....

And legacy?  More self-confidence; some great women mentors; more women who support each other; more male advocates for women and women’s work; a Festival every year; early childhood education which is teaching girls and boys that women and men are equal…

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