On June 19, some of Australia's most inspiring and trailblazing women came together to kick off the inaugural marie claire and Bumble Glass Ceiling Awards, in partnership with Estée Lauder Companies. For years, women have been fighting for equal rights, equal pay and equal respect in the workforce and it was time to recognise and applaud the game-changing women and companies who are paving the way for the next generation.
Held at the spectacular Pier One Sydney surrounded by glass emblazoned with "When there are no ceilings, the sky's the limit", we celebrated those who are making a positive change and pioneering for a better future. Here are some of the most inspiring moments from the day.
There's No Age Limit For Glass Ceiling Smashers
Eighteen-year-old Macinley Butson and fifteen-year-old Jean Hinchliffe prove just that. Yesterday, these two young trailblazers were awarded The Future Shaper Award, an award recognising next-gen thought-leaders revolutionising the future.
Butson's ingenious idea was sparked after a dinner table discussion with her father who works in the field of radiation therapy. The Woollongong teen developed her game-changing “SMART Armour” technology, a device for breast-cancer patients undergoing treatment that shields the breast that is not being treated from excess radiation. Considering “electron contamination” is a common side effect that increases the risk of developing another secondary cancer later in life, and with breast cancer affecting one in eight women, it’s easy to see how Butson’s invention can go on to save millions of lives in the future. “My thought was ‘if not me, then who, and if not now, then when?’” explains Butson. “I created SMART Armour to help save and improve people’s lives and it is my hope that soon it will be able to do just that,” she says of her invention.
And all this before her 19th birthday!
Jean Hinchliffe is a Sydney school student with a passion for advocacy. Last year she organised the School Strike 4 Climate, where Aussie kids walked out of school to protest the government’s inaction on climate change. She wore “Stop Adani” statement earrings to the protest and chanted, “We are students hear us roar, we want solar, we want more.”
“I see climate change as such an important issue, as do most young people, so I felt almost as if it was my responsibility when I heard about it [the strike] overseas,” says Hinchliffe of organising a local version of the protest. “I see our politicians doing nothing; I need to take action and I need to make a change.”
The Modern Workplace Can Be Redefined
In a recent poll conducted on marie claire readers, we discovered that the majority of women value flexibility in their workplace above anything else. Workplace flexibility is the way of the future, and engineering firm AECOM is leading the way. The company has formally abolished start and finish times as a part of their Yes Flex initiative, empowering employees to choose their hours, work from home and work to their own schedule.
“Our approach to flexible work recognises the realities of the 21st-century workplace, where ‘hours at a desk’ aren’t the true indicator of value or contribution," says the company’s mission statement.
Women Can Make The First Move
As Bumble's Michelle Battersby points out, women have made the first move on the dating app over one billion times. Battersby said, "If we can have women make the first move on our app one billion times, then surely we can have women make the first move one billion times in the real world - out there, in their day-to-day life. Put yourself forward for the promotion, ask for the pay rise. We need to make sure we're providing safe and supportive environments for women to do this."
You CAN Have It All
For women, we're often confronted with the reality of choosing between a career or family. Not anymore - women are proving they can have it all, and pave the way while doing just that. Christina Chun is the founder of social enterprise 1Scope, which has raised $1 million in its first year to give 15,000 students skill-building opportunities in the form of workshops, conferences, work experience and scholarships.
Christina has devoted her life to improving Australia’s education system and helping disadvantaged youth get ahead, and accepting Bumble's Making Moves award, Christina proved you can juggle it all.
If You Feel It, Go For It
Finishing off the day, Tanya Plibersek presented The Glass Ceiling Smasher Award to former Prime Minister Julia Gillard. As our first female PM, Gillard paved the way for other women in leadership positions – and it was not an easy path to trudge. When she left politics, Gillard, who is currently Chairwoman of Beyond Blue, said she was “optimistic” that things would be easier for the next female leader. “And I would say to [any woman] thinking of going into politics, ‘If you know why you want to do it, if you have a sense of purpose, then go for it.’”
Accepting the award on Gillard's behalf, Plibersek said, "To pursue the notion that men and women are born equal and have an equal right to achieve anything they wish in their lives - that's feminism, that's feminism."
See the full list of winners here.