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In Search of Female Financial Independence

09 Mar 2012

A panel discussion examining the barriers to women's economic and financial independence has covered some of the most pressing issues enveloping the modern Australian workplace.

The Panel

Staged in conjunction with International Women's Day, the event held last week facilitated a lively interaction between a packed audience and an intergenerational panel featuring media commentator Jane Caro, former State Government Minister Verity Firth, 10thousandgirl Campaign founder Zoe Lamont and current Bachelor of Commerce student Caitlin Naidoo.

"The discussion ranged from everything, from working in big private sector organisations to questions relating to the retention of female talent in organisations," says panel moderator and senior lecturer Dr Rae Cooper. "We also looked at the sorts of things that perhaps individuals might be able to pursue in terms of their careers, and also covered a range of broader policy questions."

Held at the Darlington Centre and sponsored by the University of Sydney Business School, Dr Cooper said the event was a timely response to the relatively low levels of female participation that continue to characterise the upper echelons of Australia's corporate environment.

"The discussion covered the issues of female pay and the pay disparities between men and women, and also examined career strategies with regard to positioning yourself as a woman in organisations," she says. "One of the questions that came up was even, should women replicate the career strategies that men adopt? Should they take a more aggressive approach with things like management? Further to that, we talked about why men don't think about acting more like women, and what it might mean in organisations if they adopted less ofthe macho, long hours-type culture and took a more collectivist approach to career progression."

Dr Cooper said despite the significant challenges that remain in place for ambitious female professionals, all those attending the panel discussion came away feeling buoyed and positive.

"The discussion was challenging, interesting, informative and funny - everyone came away laughing," she says. "It actually celebrated the place women have got to, what we know, and where we want to go."