In part two of our blog series on women in leadership we spoke to 100 Women member, Pip Brennan the Executive Director at Health Consumers’ Council.
Pip, an arts graduate, has had a very rich and varied career, from working in the Museum sector in Perth and London, teaching English as a foreign language in Greece, the UK and Perth, and working in the not for profit sector.
Pip says “Each sideways step has been really rich for me. The not for profit sector career began as grass-roots as you can get – working with other women on supports for mothers of new babies. I volunteered when my daughter was too young, then too disinclined to attend day care! I experienced the magic of turning paper into gold with my first grant application, and I was hooked! I currently run the Health Consumers’ Council, an independent organisation ensuring that people are at the heart of our health care system.”
What do you think is the most significant barrier to women in leadership?
Entrenched attitudes. WA is further behind other states, as the statistics all highlight. We have a more “blokey” culture thanks to the mining, energy and construction sectors and the many structural barriers to women’s career progression still persist. Raising a family is an obvious example, and in my own case, volunteer work is how I gained new skills and built a new career. In the not for profit sector women are much better represented as leaders, but interestingly the larger not for profits are usually run by men.
I believe in quotas. They work. And as the saying goes, when you look around for female talent, you’ll find it’s everywhere. We just won’t look until we’re forced to, it seems.
What leadership skills do you think all women should learn?
Women need to learn to back themselves. They already know so much more than they give themselves credit for, and have the natural leadership skills for the future. They also need to be committed to bringing their sisters along for the journey. We all help each other to move forward.
What company/area of government etc would you like to see a female leading?
All of them! And let’s go right to the top. It would be great at some point to see another WA female Premier.
What do you think would change if more women were leaders?
Well, for one thing, our economy would improve! The Filling the Pool report notes that lack of women in leadership is costing us Gross Domestic Project “estimated at 20%. For Australia, this represents hundreds of billions of dollars per year in lost revenue and therefore profits.”
But I believe more women in the workforce would better include the role of raising the next generation, which we seem to treat as an optional extra, rather than the core function of our society that it is.
We’d love to hear your thoughts about women in leadership.