Finalist 2017: Madeleine Johnston, QLD
Name: Madeleine Johnston
Community, State: Beaudesert, QLD
School: Beaudesert State High School
Age: Grade 12, 17 years old
Check out this amazing top 40 entry!
From primary school to Prime Minister, how can we create strong pathways to power for women?
Obviously, there’s no breaking the glass ceiling overnight, but I do believe some of our largest potential to clear the lesser travelled path of responsibility, leadership, power and success for women, lies in our education system. Our fourth, eighth or even twelfth female prime minister could be currently aspiring to play on the boy’s team or even endeavouring to compose her deeply engrained passion for gender equality into a powerful essay in her eager search for opportunity in a male dominated field. These walls exist in our society and it’s our responsibility to tear them down before they rise dauntingly above our nation’s next generation of young women. This notion is already in Australia and progressing with some speed. Prevalent for example, in the multitude of scholarships and programs encouraging women’s participation in the male dominated industries of science, technology engineering and mathematics. Industrials vital to today’s post-industrial world. However, despite this progress, initiatives such as these must be pushed until positions of power and influence are no longer seen as out of reach for any young girls.
Another area, deserving of attention, with the potential to cement platforms for young women to excel is the media presence of women with strong opinions. Though many women of strong character and opinion are rapidly infiltrating the media industry. Carrie Bickmore, being a prime example, working alongside many strong male co-hosts heads the progressive news outlet, receiving the respect and success that any accomplished women, like herself, deserves. These positive representations of powerful women in the public eye directly combat the stigma and stereotypes that has for many generations discouraged young women from pursuing positions of responsibility and power.
The female population, however, cannot be the sole focus of this solution. As the Goodwill Ambassador for UN women, Emma Watson outlines in the ‘HeForShe’ campaign: gender inequality is a global rather than female problem. Gender roles and expectations impose upon the males just as they do women, arguably not to the same degree, but none the less, men are discouraged from female dominated industries just as women are deterred from positions of power.
There was a time when our ambitions were unbound by gender. Dishearteningly, I feel I’m one of the few young adults that have held on to such aspiration. We are the people of change; we are the women of change and we all owe each other a helping hand.