Finalist 2017: Sophie Luscombe, WA

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Name: Sophie Luscombe

Community, State: Busselton, WA 

School: Cape Naturaliste College 

Age: Year 11 Age:16 

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

For me it’s ensuring I have the same opportunities as the next person, whether the next person is male or female. It’s ensuring that I know that I am just as capable and just as worthy of a position when I have worked just as hard. It’s eliminating unconscious bias in our schools, workplaces and homes, and it’s about learning to defy the stereotypes screamed to us through the media, to a point where we have out run them.    

To face this issue head-on, that time and time again my female peers and I have faced whilst in school, I believe it’s important to start where the issue is stemming.

It’s not just teachers. It’s parents, it’s students, it’s society as a whole and unless you can identify it you don’t know it exists. It’s unconscious bias. Unconscious bias is when, without knowing, you are favouring or limiting women or any minority group without consciously making that decision. It’s when someone needs to carry something to the library and the teacher goes “I need a strong person to carry this box!” and then picks a male because he is stereotyped to be physically stronger. It’s also when young women are told they might not “enjoy” a maths or science based subject by a teacher but their male counterpart is encouraged to pursue that course because women aren’t stereotypically good at maths or science based subjects. How many opportunities do you think young women have missed because of this unconscious bias? I propose that when studying to become a teacher, or any sort or mentor, that a section be added to the course that covers unconscious bias because once you are aware of it, it becomes such an easy thing to pick up in others and even yourself. Once this comes into play I think more opportunities will open up for young women, that women will believe in their capability to strive to positions of power, be encouraged to seek adventure and take the risks we are so often warned against.     

Nothing is ever going to change immediately but a problem which is stemming in schools needs to be addressed in schools and our future generation of teachers can be the ones who make this difference.