After becoming the first woman to win the Melbourne Cup last Tuesday afternoon, jockey Michelle Payne spoke about her preparations the night before: I gave myself a little bit of time…before I went to sleep to think if I won Melbourne Cup what I would say, and I sort of thought, ‘Don’t be silly’, but it’s nice to be able to dream.”

Hearing this on the day, I thought of the three women in strata who had nominated for SCA (NSW) board positions (strata manager licensed chapter), and who were facing an election that coming Friday. No doubt they too had their ‘don’t be silly’ moment, yet, like Michelle Payne, they summoned the confidence and determination to continue working towards their goal.

At the AGM on Friday, each of these three women stood before the SCA membership and spoke about their dreams for the strata sector. They spoke of building the influence of women and young people, the importance of education, and their “intolerance for nonsense and time wasting” (loved that one, Michele Hemmings!). They spoke eloquently and with passion. They were an absolute credit to their profession and an inspiring example for the many young women in strata who look to them as mentors and leaders.

Reena Van Aalst was elected to the SCA board. Catherine Lezer was also appointed (unopposed) to the strata owner’s chapter. That is two additional women on the NSW board, boosting the number of women on the board to four (Reena and Catherine join the incumbent Deanne Holz and the re-appointed Melissa Truscott).

Four out of eleven aint bad. But nor is it time to rest on our laurels.

U.S Supreme Court Justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, is often asked: how many women on the Supreme Court will be “enough”? Her answer: “when there are nine”. “For most of the country’s history, there were nine and they were all men” she says. “Nobody thought that was strange.”  

Well, apparently women are winning Melbourne Cups these days. From where I stand, the sky’s the limit for Women in Strata, as long as we’re prepared to “be silly” and dream big.

Congratulations Reena, Catherine, and all of the women who nominated for board positions. Thank you for your example and inspiration.


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