Finalist 2017: Sophie Adams, TAS
Name: Sophie Adams
Community, State: Penguin/ Riana, TAS
School: Marist Regional College (Burnie)
Age: Grade 10, Age 15
Check out this amazing top 40 entry!
From primary school to Prime Minister, how can we create strong pathways to power for women?
“What are you doing here? We are going to get you out straight away, we are all sexist.”
This is what I was told one lunchtime, when I went to play ball games with a group of boys in my grade.
In 1902, our country allowed women to vote in federal elections and enter federal politics, yet this is what I am faced with as a girl, in Australia, in 2017. It may look like we have come a long way since the suffragettes in the early 1900s, especially if you look at the amount of women graduating from universities, but if you look at some of the other statistics about men and women in Australia, and start talking to women and girls about their experiences you see a different picture.
If we really want more female leaders, first we need young girls to believe that they can be leaders and make a difference. Young women however, are not going to believe in themselves, if others do not believe in them and genuinely want them to have an equal place in society.
Before they can speak, babies are already taking in information about gender roles and as they grow, they learn about society and its social norms therefore, we need to work on changing gender stereotypes and societal attitudes.
For these societal changes to occur, I believe we must develop individuals, regardless of their gender, by teaching them to be respectful of all people and our planet, by developing their personal strength, resilience and self-motivation, by encouraging them to be inquisitive; to seek knowledge and information, and to question. Our education system influences children and young people, therefore, has a responsibility to create the right environment for this development and provide appropriate role models, mentors and supportive networks.
To support the development of individuals and to promote the necessary shift in society Australia needs to have the right structures in place. I propose that in order to strengthen leadership we must have an equal balance of men and women looking at our laws, policies and other frameworks to make sure that they are creating equal opportunities for everyone.
How can we have a game where boys and girls are competing equally, if there are only boys setting the rules? If we change the attitudes of the players, the rules and the participants, the game will change!
“I want to play.”