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2021 WiM WA’s International Women’s Day Breakfast

April 28, 2021

2021 WiM WA’s International Women’s Day Breakfast

2021 Women in Media International Women’s Day Breakfast

With international Women’s Day (IWD) approaching, members of Perth’s Women in Media (WiM) mentoring initiative gathered at the Harry Perkins Institute to hear from this year’s keynote speaker – CEO and founder of the Perth Symphony Orchestra Bourby Webster.

Following a second week of misogyny, sexual assault, and rape allegations levelled against Australia’s federal parliament, this year’s event has arrived at a poignant time, and provided a welcome space to celebrate female-led initiatives in our small corner of the world.

In her opening remarks, Committee member Di Ingelse addressed the events of recent weeks.

“It’s very sad that the institution which creates Australia’s legislative and moral framework has failed so badly at upholding the basic rights of the country’s women,” she said.

While the division in our nation’s capital drags on, this year’s event has chosen to foster a sense of unity amongst the attendees in the hope of realising this year’s theme #ChooseToChallenge.

An advocate for equal opportunities, the 40under40 award winner has seized control of her own narrative and in doing so, forged a path for others to follow.

From leadership programs to the integration of rock and classical music, Webster has spent the past ten years reinventing how audiences experience orchestral performances.

“There is nothing wrong with the music that orchestra’s play, but perhaps there’s something wrong with the packaging – it hasn’t moved on in 150 years,” she said.

Interviewing Webster was author and journalist Rosalind Appleby, who shared her experience of the first Perth Symphony Orchestra performance.

“My baby boy was nine months old, and I was so excited to be able to go to a concert that I could take him to as it was outdoors and so accessible,” she said.

Appleby and Webster lamented a culture in which women still play seconded fiddle to their male colleagues.

Citing a recent findings from the 2020 APRA AMCOS Workplace Gender Equality Compliance Report, Appleby pointed out that while equal numbers of men and women study undergraduate music degrees, only 21 percent of working musicians are women, who also receive fewer royalty payment than their male counterparts.

“Female musicians are less likely to win professional accolades and more likely to experience sexism,” Appleby said.

“It has never been about ability. It is about creating space for women in music. It is about opportunity.

“I have reflected on how many biases there are [in the industry] and how we are so conditioned,” Webster said.

As she reflected on how she has maintained her drive in a career that has spanned more than twenty years, one thing was clear – her passion.

“Classical music is still so fresh and exciting, and there’s a reason movie director’s still put classical music into movies written now – it uplifts, it brings joy, it satiates us.

“When we have got so many people singing along and thousands of people up on their feet dancing – that is so infectious,” she said.

“The orchestra feel it, the team feel it – it’s a constant Gatorade.”

Ashley Davis is a third-year journalism and international relations student at Curtin University. Currently a chef, Ashleigh hopes to professionally report in any medium, as long as she gets to tell people’s stories,

Amelia Searson (photography) is in her final semester of studying journalism at Curtin University and works as a radio and digital reporter for ABC Perth. In 2020, she was a finalist in the WA Media Awards for Outstanding Journalism Student.