Author, journalist, commentator and feminist Jamila Rizvi says women must decide whether they want to “be nice or be the boss”, but she says they cannot be both at once.
Speaking at an International Women’s Day event hosted by Our Community’s legal partner Maddocks this month, Ms Rizvi said women must make the call to be “lovely and helpful or the ball breaker at the top”.
She told her rapt audience that too many women believed it was luck that had led to their success, whereas the truth was that success came from hard work, determination and sometimes privilege.
Maddocks associate Jessica Cirnigliaro was among those listening, and she later described Ms Rizvi as “an energetic, inspiring and compassionate individual who speaks with both conviction and kindness”.
Like others in the audience, she said “her words have stuck with me”, including the idea that gender equality must be a joint endeavour “that will only work if everyone works together to understand the issues facing all women”.
Ms Rizvi’s words echoed her address at the Communities in Control conference in 2018, where she argued that women often do the hard work without taking the credit.
“Do not mistake your hard-fought achievements as the product of luck. The success that comes from working hard, honing your talent and perfecting your skills is not luck,” Ms Rizvi said at the time.
“Luck is a substitute for women's lack of confidence and our desire to be liked. It is one of the many ways we twist and turn ourselves inside out to please other people. To seem less powerful, less threatening, less likely to take up space that would otherwise be occupied by a man.”
Successful women should be “sharing that experience [of success] with others, to give a boost to the next generation by being open and generous with what we've learned,” she said.
On that note, here are some opportunities to step up with the Institute of Community Directors.
- Watch this webinar on replay: Women! Get on a board! (first presented on International Women’s Day)
- Apply for ICDA’s board leadership program: Apply for a full scholarship place available to women to undertake the Diploma of Governance supported by the Office for Women Victoria (round closes Friday, April 8)
- Buy this book: Get on a Board (Even better – Become the Chair): Advancing Diversity & Women in Australia
- Take part in the free Growing Gender Equity Through Governance program, supported by the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet’s Office for Women.