Finalist 2017: Ashleigh Hollins, QLD

Home»Finalist 2017: Ashleigh Hollins, QLD

Name: Ashleigh Hollins

Community, State: Mareeba, QLD

School: Mareeba State High School

Age: Year 11, 16 years old

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From primary school to Prime Minister, how can we create strong pathways to power for women?

Creating pathways into power and influence for women, from a young age, is becoming increasingly important in Australia and the world. We are starting to see more women move into positions of power, with several flow-on effects. Which include role-modelling and creating opportunities for other women, improving profit of private companies and promotion of women’s and children’s rights. This benefits everyone. Although, Australia was one of the first nations to allow women to vote, our halls of Parliament have been oestrogen deficient for too long. A society led by more diverse representation would be more successful and inclusive. How can this be achieved? Recognition of women leading the way, and celebrating women who are achieving, empowering, and leading the way in their chosen field.

Women often encounter barriers to get to positions of power that men do not; the barriers increase for women of different cultural backgrounds, women with disabilities and women from other minorities. There are many ways these barriers can be broken down, for example, recruitment targets for businesses creates a pipeline for women into businesses. Targeting specialist areas is also important, particularly those such as STEM, IT and finance (where the gender pay gap is the highest). This can be supported by special training opportunities and scholarships. By closing the gender gap in the workforce, children – especially young girls – will have many more female role models in positions of power to look up to.

In Australia today, we have many women excelling in their selected field, be it sporting or law, science or entrepreneurship they continue to achieve in ways that deserve to be recognised. Celebrating and having discussions about the innovations and success of women helps empower the younger generations. Living in rural communities it can be rare to have local role models who have achieved greatly for young girls to look up to. In my community, more than half the shire council is female, and both the primary and high schools have a multitude of female educators, who have, in their own way, made a lasting impact on me and my dreams and future goals.

By creating pathways to leadership for women, we empower the younger generations and creates a pipeline for future generations. In the words of Dolly Parton, “If your actions create a legacy that inspires others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, then, you are an excellent leader.”