Amazing Achievements In An Unbalanced World

12 min read
Spotlight on 6 Remarkable Women for International Women’s Day
We live in an exciting period of history. The groundswell for change to a more gender balanced world is growing, with people speaking up and demanding equal opportunity for all women, in all walks of life.

With #BalanceforBetter the theme for this year’s International Women’s Day, we’re making our own noise about equality in the events industry with a week of women only on our website 4th to 11th March (for the full story behind why we chose to do this, read this post).

We’re also celebrating women’s achievements in a world that often serves up extra hurdles for females.

Here’s just a small sample of the extraordinary women we have the privilege to work alongside every day:

6 Remarkable Women

We asked each woman about the triumphs and challenges they’ve faced as women in their respective industries, and what #BetterBalance means for them.

6 Remarkable Australian Women for International Women’s Day Click To Tweet

1. Dr Gina Cleo – Senior Research Fellow

Dr Gina Cleo is a passionate and charismatic Dietitian and Senior Research Fellow at Bond University. She is recognised as the only Australian researcher in habit-change for long-term weight loss maintenance and holds a PhD in habits.

Gina, any challenges or triumphs you’ve had as a woman in your industry?

I’m privileged to work alongside an incredible team of internationally-renowned women who have paved the way with ground-breaking science and have received esteemed awards.

It’s these women who have gone before me that have inspired me to be the only Australian habit-change researcher in my field. These triumphs have not just told, but they’ve shown that women are excelling in academia (and beyond).

I see all around me that women in science are capable of overcoming any challenge, especially when we champion each other. When the sisterhood unites, it’s a beautifully empowering embrace.

"When the sisterhood unites, it’s a beautifully empowering embrace." - Dr Gina Cleo #BalanceforBetter #IWD2019 Click To Tweet
What does #BalanceforBetter mean to you?

I was born in a north African country where a woman’s voice, opinion, choice of clothing, the right to travel outside the country and even the right to work is chosen for her.

As family and friends back home share stories of resistance to female rights and the overwhelming lack of gender balance, I’m left with a diverse perspective on #BalanceforBetter as in Australia. I live in unbound freedom compared to their experiences.

To me, #BalanceforBetter means a world where women of all races and cultures are celebrated for presenting their talents, expressing their creativity and exerting their strength. It’s a world where women are regarded as complete individuals and afforded equal rights to men.


"A world where women of all races and cultures are celebrated for presenting their talents." - Dr Gina Cleo #BalanceforBetter #IWD2019 Click To Tweet

2. Emma Pask – Jazz Singer

“The greatest gift to Australian Jazz Vocals in the last decade” is how James Morrison, Australia’s most awarded jazzman, describes Emma Pask.

Emma is internationally renowned for her talents and achievements.

Emma, what does #BalanceforBetter mean to you?

What an exciting time it is! The world is awakening and the call for equality is being heard.

Balance for Better is integral for our growth as women. To believe in our strengths and talents.

To forge forward knowing our self worth and to be proud of what we have to offer to our communities.

Being there for our younger generation of women, presenting them with role models that inspire them to be the best they can be.

A balance so everyone’s voice is heard and respected.

"To forge forward knowing our self worth and to be proud of what we have to offer to our communities." - Emma Pask #BalanceforBetter #IWD2019 Click To Tweet
Any challenges or triumphs you’ve had as a woman in your industry?

I feel incredibly fortunate for the path that I’ve travelled.

Embarking on a career in music from just 16 years of age, I often found myself being the only female in our work environment.

Entering the music business with next to no experience, I found myself learning, from doing. That was equal parts thrilling and terrifying!

Being up on stage in front of audiences, and being surrounded by incredibly talented musicians, I felt so driven to improve daily.

Along with the all those nerves, I did appreciate the fact that I had the opportunity to represent women in a mostly male dominated field.

I am incredibly proud of the fact that after all these years I am still able to make a living out of what I love doing so much.

Running a business, fronting my own band and being able to tour nationally and internationally is such a joy.

Through the years I’ve seen more and more young women discovering their passion for Jazz.

By taking up an instrument or using their voice to make a career in music for themselves, is a wonderful thing to witness.


"The world is awakening and the call for equality is being heard." - Emma Pask #BalanceforBetter #IWD2019 Click To Tweet

3. Leah McLeod – TV Presenter

Leah’s on-camera and on-stage presence is real, funny and incredibly relatable – the hallmarks of her success. Leah McLeod has been a popular television & radio presenter for the last 18 years.

She is also one of the country’s leading voice-over artists, narrators and Master of Ceremonies.

Leah, what does #BalanceforBetter mean to you?

It’s so true, ‘The Better The Balance, The Better The World’. Balance can mean different things to different people but speaking for myself it resonates on a level of women truly honouring themselves in the work they do, the people they care for and the contribution they make.

Better balance, better self love, better life!

Better balance, better self love, better life. - Leah McLeod #BalanceforBetter #IWD2019 Click To Tweet
Any challenges or triumphs you’ve had as a woman in your industry?

Being a woman in the Australian Television industry has not been a cakewalk, if I’m to be perfectly honest. Having said that, I’ve enjoyed good run in a very ‘Blokey’ led industry.

My favourite show to host was DIY Rescue on the Nine Network. Women were not the first choice as hosts were concerned, especially in a renovation format, so the opportunity to be at the helm was a massive achievement.

These experiences have taught me to be resilient, strong and most of all… to stay true to who I am, authentically me.


"Women truly honouring themselves in the work they do." - Leah McLeod #BalanceforBetter #IWD2019 Click To Tweet

4. Marina Prior – Musical Theatre Star

Regarded as Australia’s leading lady of musical theatre, Marina Prior is best known for her lead role in The Phantom of the Opera which she played for over three years, along with the lead role in many other musical productions.

Marina has won multiple awards for her stage performances and an Advance Australia Award for her contribution to the performing arts.

Marina, what does #BalanceforBetter mean to you?

Balance for Better for me is trying to achieve that ever illusive life/work balance. My work as a performer is a huge part of my life, and an extension of who I am, and yet it needs to be in balance with the dynamic of my family.

As a wife and mother of five, I am always feeding, transporting, counselling, guiding and being involved in every aspect of my children’s lives, as well as being a loving and supportive wife to my (wonderful) husband…

It is a role that requires complete dedication, and so does being an actor and singer. I guess it is the universal conflict that every working mum deals with.

Balance between these two parts of me is something I am forever chasing.

For my life as a working mum to keep rolling smoothly, I need my emotional, physical and spiritual well-being to be nurtured.

Not feeling guilty for my own self-care has been something that have embraced as I’ve matured, and learning to say no has been a great revelation in my later years.

Having a fantastic little tribe of family and friends helps keep that balance stable too. I don’t think I’ll ever achieve it perfectly… the stage is a demanding mistress… but basically I’ll make sure my family are ok, and work backwards from there.

If all else fails, a glass of rosé or a cup of tea is always an option!!!

Any challenges or triumphs you’ve had as a woman working in your industry?

One of the greatest challenges of being a woman in the industry for me has been being a mum of newborns, and working.

I have lost count of the times that I’ve had to frantically express milk for a live performance in order to fit into a gown, or experienced milk let down in the middle of a song climax, or raced offstage, ripping off a glamorous gown to a baby crying in the wings.

The difference between the illusion onstage and reality is vast!!


"One of the greatest challenges of being a woman in the industry for me has been being a mum of newborns, and working." - Marina Prior #BalanceforBetter #IWD2019 Click To Tweet

5. Lucy Bloom – Author & Consultant

Change-maker, exceptional communicator and business fixer – Lucy Bloom created and led an advertising agency for 20 years, and as CEO of a brand new women’s health organisation raised $7M for hospitals in Ethiopia and transformed a Cambodian children’s charity as its first CEO.

She is a professional conference speaker, author, and passionate advocate for gender equality.

Lucy, what does #BalanceforBetter mean to you?

This year’s IWD theme means that the balance has been tipped in the favour of men for far too long. When you include women at the top of the pile, you include a proper balance of perspectives to lead the way.

Balance is better for business, for policy and for EVERYONE. But you have to intentionally include women in all aspects of leadership, otherwise they are unintentionally excluded. Gender bias is alive and well. We all have to actively INCLUDE women for better balance.

"We all have to actively include women for better balance." - Lucy Bloom #BalanceforBetter #IWD2019 Click To Tweet
Any challenges or triumphs you’ve had as a woman in your industry?

I am often the only female speaker at major events and this drives me NUTS.

When women are not included as a 50% voice at major events, audiences are only given one picture of success. Boo to that. Ask me and I’ll give you a long list of remarkable women to include in your line up.


"When women are not included as a 50% voice at major events, audiences are only given one picture of success." - Lucy Bloom #BalanceforBetter #IWD2019 Click To Tweet

6. Dr Leslie Cannold – Philosopher, Ethicist

Leslie Cannold educates and trains on inspirational leadership, gender equity and respectful relationships. She is a regular on ABC TV’s Moral Compass and an occasional columnist at The Age.

Leslie sits on a variety of boards and advisory committees and is the recipient of numerous awards and notices for her contributions to public life.

Leslie, what does #BalanceforBetter mean to you?

Australian democracy is rotting at its core. Women continue to shoulder the lion’s share of the second shift at home, and the guilt that comes with it.

#BalanceforBetter reminds me, as an ethicist and a mother, that these 2 problems are connected and totally solvable. All we need is gender balance in the house, and the Senate!

Any challenges or triumphs you’ve had as a woman in your industry?
My biggest triumph are my two radical feminist sons, and the success I had in making them that way, which was getting my partner to share the work – and I mean really share it.

I remember pulling my hair out trying to keep my academic career going while being the best and most present parent I could be and I just couldn’t square the circle. I wanted my partner to do more and eventually realised the three tricks to getting that to happen.

First, I needed to ask. Second, I needed to respect his way of doing things.

And third? I needed to go away on a loooooooooong business trip. By the time I got back he was the one telling me who had a doctor’s appointment, what forms needed to be filled in for school and who had a play date scheduled when.


"All we need is gender balance in the house, and the Senate!" - Dr Leslie Cannold #BalanceforBetter #IWD2019 Click To Tweet

Inspiring Women to Push Through the Barriers

Although there’s lots of work to be done before we see real gender balance, it’s an exciting time we live in. Change is afoot, and there’s no going back on the road to equality.

Take it from these remarkable women, who’ve pushed through patriarchal structures to achieve success and will continue to lead the way as inspiring role models for all.


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About the Author

Alison Clarke

Alison is the founder and director of Enhance. It turns out she has a flair for connecting talent with clients. A classical pianist graduating from the prestigious Sydney Conservatorium of Music, Alison spent a decade performing on the international stage, was twice awarded scholarships to the Chamber Music Residency Program in Canada, and was invited to International Musician’s Seminar Prussia Cove. She now manages talent and events worldwide.

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