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Oct 16, 2017 Guest Posts Susie Elelman 87 views

What It Means to be a Woman

As hard as I’ve tried, I can’t think of a way to answer the first statement above; ‘What It Means to Be a Woman’ as I’ve never been a man or an animal or anything else to allow me to compare.

Gloria Steinem, however, certainly gave me food for thought when she said; ‘Some of us are becoming the men we wanted to marry.’

Girl Power

Men kick friendship around like a football, but it doesn’t seem to crack. Women treat it like glass and it goes to pieces – Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Not having had any sisters, only older brothers, I never grew up with the sibling rivalry that I’d often witnessed with some of my female school mates and their sisters.  The jealousy and unhealthy competitiveness could be fierce and it was rife amongst girls when I was in primary school. Fortunately, most of us grew out of it by the time we’d reached high school but unfortunately, I’ve found those same traits still exist in some adult women.

There is a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women” – Madeleine Albright

I’ve always advocated the need for women to establish a sisterhood, the female equivalent to ‘The Boys’ Club’ and use that Girl Power to help and support each other especially in business.

I’m noticing that women are supporting each other more and more today but we still have a long way to go.

Often there are fewer jobs or promotional opportunities for women compared to the men in their workplace, which can make it a more cut-throat and competitive environment amongst those women.

While females are now consistently out-performing males in their exam results, it doesn’t seem to be reflected in their pay packets when they start work.

Disappointingly, the gender pay gap still exists in the 21st Century and it’s alarming to see how much less money most women earn compared to their male counterparts.

I saw some eye opening statistics on Lateline on the ABC recently that showed women earn between 81-85 cents for every dollar earned by men in like for like roles.

That’s a 15-19% gender pay gap, which varies greatly across industries.

In Local Government and Police it’s around 7% but it gets as high as 31% in Financial Services.

122 leading corporate & business chiefs have already started the change by becoming signatories to ‘Closing the Gender Pay Gap’ report and they are encouraging other organisations to do the same.

However, we have a much longer way to go when it comes to women breaking through the glass ceiling.

In our ASX 200 listed companies only around 3% of CEOs are female & about 8% of women are board members. It’s encouraging to see that this is much higher in the Club Industry where around 20% of CEOs & 14% of board members are female but even that is still a disproportionately low representation of working women and their qualifications.

It stands to reason that the higher women can climb up the corporate ladder, the more opportunities they will have to help other women and stop the conscious or unconscious bias that currently exists where men are not only favoured over women for jobs and promotions, but to ‘add insult to injury’, they get paid more.

Please don’t get me wrong, this is not all the fault of men and the system, women can sometimes be their own worst enemies.

The thing women have yet to learn is that nobody gives you power. You just take it – Roseanne Barr

Men are much more likely to boldly ask for a higher pay at their job interview and regularly ask for a pay rise, while as a rule, women don’t want to ‘rock the boat’ and are more inclined to accept what’s been offered.

Women also need to be very aware that we can come across very differently when we project and try to be self-assured. Care needs to be taken in our delivery and presentation as what is perceived as assertive behaviour coming from a man can often be viewed as aggressive in a woman.

I’ve yet to be on a campus where most women weren’t worrying about some aspect of combining marriage, children and a career. I’ve yet to find one where many men were worrying about the same thing – Gloria Steinem

What’s already slowly starting to happen in community-minded companies is a positive change to their staff’s work conditions.

By providing job sharing roles, flexible hours and nearby crèches, working parents and especially working Mums have a much better work/life balance and allows them to stay in the workforce longer.

This gives all women a better chance to advance their careers, earn better money and acquire sufficient superannuation to live comfortably in retirement. All important reasons to keep generating that Girl Power!

By the way…unlike the ‘Boys’ Club’ all men are most welcome to join our ‘sisterhood’ and help us succeed too!!

Favourite Part About Being a Woman

Growing up I was always a little envious of how quick and easy it was for my Dad and my brothers when it came to clothes and getting ready.

Men can wear the same clothes every day and it generally goes unnoticed, as Karl Stefanovic demonstrated when he deliberately wore the same blue suit for a year on the Today Show without it being detected by a single viewer.

In fact, I think he’s still wearing that same suit.

Men get to wear flat comfortable shoes regardless of the outfit they wear so they never ruin their feet, like I did, wearing stilettos.

Men can strip down to a pair of shorts and thongs to cool down in the sweltering heat and no one ogles or arrests them because they’re topless in public.

Plus they don’t need to wear make-up.

Having said all that, my envy of men’s easy dressing is far outweighed by my favourite part about being a woman and that’s dressing up and having fun with all different sorts of fashion and jewellery…plus I would hate to have to shave my face every day.

I’ll leave the last word about being a woman to US comedian and actor, the late Gilda Radner, who was married to Gene Wilder when ovarian cancer sadly claimed her life in 1989 at only 42 years of age.

I’d much rather be a woman than a man. Women can cry, they can wear cute clothes, and they’re the first to be rescued off sinking ships Gilda Radner

Cheers x susie

Susie Elelman

Author, TV & Radio Broadcaster

AMC Ambassador

About The Author - Susie Elelman

Susie Elelman is an Australian television presenter, radio broadcaster, and author, most famous for her appearances on daytime television in Australia. She has been an ambassador of the Australian Menopause Centre since 2016 and it is a pleasure to have such an influential figure support our work.

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