“Speak Up, Find Your Voice, Make It Happen”
From the second our WIM WA group stepped into the bustling registration room for the inaugural Women in Media Conference, I knew we were in for an amazing couple of days.
The wit, intelligence and skill of the women both speaking and in the audience was truly something special to be around.
Channel 7’s Kay McGrath opened the conference, followed by a speech from national WIM patron Caroline Jones.
Caroline spoke of her appointment to Four Corners in the sixties, the overt sexism that followed in the press, and of the imposter syndrome that struck her like so many other successful women.
She urged us to reflect on why we do the job we do.
The Wonder Women panel was a whirlwind of media powerhouses and neverending quotable moments, supplied by Christine Middap, Sandra Sully, Karina Carvalho, Anita Jacoby and Claire Bradley.
“Speak up, find your voice, make it happen,” Sandra said.
She also mentioned how vital it is to bounce ideas off other people, especially when you’re feeling stuck – “your perspective shrinks when something’s happening to you,” Sandra said.
The panel agreed that working hard is essential, but only part of moving ahead in your career – be smart and build up your networks, and start gathering a case together so you’re ready to ask for that pay rise.
Talk yourself up, upskill, say no when you have to, back yourself and take risks – “Don’t be overlooked and embittered in the corner,” Christine urged the audience. She also noted we need to able to pivot and be nimble in the workplace.
Men in Media
The Men in Media panel had been the topic of some discussion on Twitter – and to be entirely honest with you, I’d been a little unsure, to begin with too. An all-male panel at the Women in Media conference? Hmm.
But the female speakers before the male panel made me look at it from an entirely different angle, that being how important it is to have men there to sit down and listen to what women are fighting for in the workplace.
Foxtel CEO Peter Tonagh, SBS CEO Michael Ebeid and Joe Hildebrand (The Daily Telegraph and Channel 10’s Studio Ten) opened up with what women are dominating in the workplace.
Peter said women are consistently better at giving direct and honest feedback, something backed up by Michael who also said female managers are able to set clearer targets in a better and more constructive way.
Michael raised a point that hit home for a lot of us in the audience – the notion that the longer you stay at work and the more hours you pour into the constantly hungry mouth of the beast, the better the employee you are.
“People still have this thing that if you leave early, you’re not dedicated to your job,” he said. “We’ve got to get rid of that.”
He also said regular reviews of the gender pay gap are essential in each workplace, along with rectifying title difference and office differences between male and female employees at the same level.
Women in Media Online
Kim Porteous, Rachel Hancock and Sandy Bresic sat down to discuss the rise of social media, while Alice Workman passed on her apologies for not being able to make it – no surprise, given her huge week in Canberra!
The panel noted that online media isn’t just a matter of digitising your product – it’s tailoring work just for that audience.
Kim said we need to be looking at non-traditional story formats and considering “What’s the best way I can tell that?”.
Rachel said it’s key to have a personality online, and we need to ignore the tendency to want to be first – don’t break something when there’s too high a chance it could be wrong.
In what will also have journos breathing a sigh of relief, Rachel also said we need to make the story number one, rather than focusing on likes.
“As long as you get an important story, it doesn’t matter whether it gets one like or 100.”
Future Proofing Your Career
This panel was one of the highlights of the day, with Virginia Trioli, Nassim Khadem and Alison Monroe – I was scratching away furiously at my notebook to preserve their nuggets of wisdom.
Virginia said we need to look at what we do well, what we’re missing, and what we need. Constantly reassess your skills, and don’t let yourself be pegged into one hole.
“If anyone ever tells you you’re being too forward, ignore them,” she advised.
If you’re looking to jump into a job soon, get your pen and paper out and take down this advice from Alison: don’t show your cards too soon.
Don’t disclose your preferred salary upfront, or say a number – say the role is quite different to your previous one, and you’re keen to know what it’s worth to them.
In terms of asking for a pay rise at your current job, the panel agreed you need to have a file full of things you’ve done well, eyeballs you’ve got on the page, and proof you’re smashing it.
Virginia called it a ‘save your arse’ file.
“Don’t be embarrassed about going in to ask for a raise with evidence,” she said. “Make it hard for them to say no.”
I had the pleasure of meeting up with the WIM rural scholarship winners from around the country – what an inspiration they were.
There was something very exciting about being around a group of young women who thought in such similar ways to me, faced the same issues in their workplaces, and were so bold and bright.
Our group was lucky enough to have dinner with none other than Caroline Jones, who shared tips and stories of her career.