Last week I was fortunate enough to attend the SCA Australasia conference in beautiful Auckland. It was your usual conference fodder. A panel here, a keynote there. There were some highlights. Sir Bob Parker, former Mayor of Christchurch, was insightful and very human as he shared his experience of being Mayor during the devastating 2010, and 2011 earthquakes. It was a sobering moment.

There were, of course, low lights. Like the number of panels featuring a single woman, and those that featured not even that. Here is a breakdown of the numbers:

  • Individual, or paired presentations: 7
  • Male presenters: 7 (one pair presentation)
  • Females presenters: 2 (pair presentation)
  • Panel discussions: 8 (including a breakfast session)
  • Male moderators: 7
  • Female moderators: 1
  • Panellist: 38
  • Male panellist: 31
  • Female panellist: 7

Yep, you are reading that right. Women were represented as panellist at a percentage of 18.42% and presented a single individual (in this case paired) session. There were three panels without a single woman represented and one (just one) that made it to 50% representation. This was also the only session that was moderated by a woman.

Now, I am not sure who or how these panels are put together. What I do know, is that there are many talented, intelligent women worthy of being included on them who simply were not. Unconscious bias? Perhaps. Not reaching past traditional networks? I suspect so. A little bit of not challenging the status quo? Undoubtedly.

BUT, and this is the good news part. The inequality did not go unnoticed. And not just by me and other fabulous strata feminists.  Chris Duggan, SCA (NSW) President, on accepting the award for National Strata Business of the Year acknowledged the discrepancy. He noted that 70% of the award nominees that night were women, yet women remain underrepresented in senior management. He acknowledged we need to do better. He acknowledged this within his own business and on behalf of the sector. He committed to change. This is exciting.

Not just exciting, it is pivotal and important. Acknowledgment is the first, vital step to the sector achieving greater diversity. The next, is to formulate real plans for action. To talk to those in senior management roles and ask outright, where are the women?  What are the barriers and how do we collectively break them down?

Thank you, Chris. We look forward to working with SCA to improve female representation in our sector. We’ve got a few ideas we’re ready to work on together.


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