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5 Australian Celebs On The Ceiling Smashers They Admire Most

Julia Gillard, Mel Doyle, Layne Beachley, Kylie Kwong and Camilla Franks get candid

Ahead of the marie claire and Bumble Glass Ceiling Awards, supported by Estée Lauder Companies, next week, we asked our judging panel to open up about the ceiling smashers they look up to. Here, former Prime Minister and chair of Beyond Blue Julia Gillard, journalist Mel Doyle, world champion surfer Layne Beachley, chef and culinary icon Kylie Kwong and fashion designer Camilla Franks get candid about the incredible women they admire. Prepare to be inspired!


“Joan Kirner [the former Premier of Victoria] is someone who I have looked up to in my career, and that is because I’ve had the great privilege of getting to know Joan very well personally. I went to university with her son Dave so I knew her as Dave’s mum. She, of course, smashed a glass ceiling by becoming Premier of Victoria. Post that experience, I had the opportunity of working alongside her as she fought for the affirmative action target in the Labor Party and created an organization called Emily’s List to support women Labor candidates. Throughout my journey in politics, including my Prime Ministership, she was always there with oodles of support and suggestions. She was not well when I was Prime Minister, she was often at home experiencing ill health, but she was a demon on the iPad and was always sending me little message that were very heartwarming.”

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“In the surfing world, I really look up to Lisa Anderson [the four-time world surfing champion]. She made it okay to surf like a girl. I also admire [philanthropist and champion of the AFLW] Susan Alberti. I have met this incredible woman and am in awe of her innate strength, passion and dedication to women’s sport and our course, medical research. Such an amazing lady with a fascinating story. She has smashed many ceilings and continues to do so. I am inspired by any woman who steps into a leadership position and owns it.”

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“I think we can all be gamechangers. You can lead by example, by attitude and by influence. You can lead by challenging the status quo. To see women doing wonderful things, gives the rest of us strength to do things in our own way. I look at somebody like Michelle Obama – I’m absolutely in awe of her and the changes she’s made in the world. Her husband was the one who was elected to office, but she grabbed the mantle that she was given as first lady and made something really significant. When she said, “When they go low, we go high,” she showed that you can do it in your won way.”

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“Aunty Beryl is an Indigenous Elder, educator and cook who became an early champion of “bush tucker” cuisine during her 50-year career. Her passion for supporting Indigenous Australia is evident in the fact that she simply refuses to retire because she wants to continue to educate and mentor young Indigenous people. When I first met Aunty Beryl, she said, ‘Kylie, I have three words in my dictionary: Communication, Education, Respect. That’s what I tell my students all the time.’ She has not only paved the way for other women, she’s paved the way for a generation of Indigenous Australians through her tireless work to promote and pass on indigenous culture and knowledge which is vital for all Australians.”

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“Melanie Perkins [the co-founder of graphic design app Canva] is shaking things up in the male-dominated tech industry and we’re here for it. She has broken down the boundaries for future tech females with similar ambitions, by making it simpler and easier for them by setting an unapologetic agenda for equal opportunity in this sector.”

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