Grammar Women — Be BOLD for Change

L-R Ms Georgie Somerset, Ms Julie Hammer, Ms Lucy Carne, Ms Jacinda Euler

L-R Ms Georgie Somerset, Ms Julie Hammer, Ms Lucy Carne, Ms Jacinda Euler

Ms Jacinda Euler, Principal

Grammar Women — Be BOLD for Change, was the first event in our 2017 Grammar Women series, held on 25th May. The theme, ‘Be Bold for Change’, adopted the 2017 International Women’s Day catch cry, which is a rousing call for women and men around the world to unite and act to address barriers to gender equality that persist, even today.

I was very pleased to be joined on the panel by three women who epitomise the call to ‘Be Bold for Change’ — Grammar women, Retired Air Vice-Marshal Ms Julie Hammer AM CSC (1971) and Ms Lucy Carne (1998), alongside Ms Georgie Somerset. These women have challenged the status quo, blazed trails in the traditionally male-dominated fields of engineering, the media and agribusiness respectively, thereby changing the face of their professional landscapes.

The conversation was lively, candid and generous. I am sure that some of their comments, below, will resonate with our Girls Grammar community.

Retired Air Vice-Marshal Ms Julie Hammer AM CSC (1971) served for twenty-eight years in the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) as an electronics engineer. She was the first woman to command an operational unit in the RAAF, the Electronic Warfare Squadron, and the first woman to achieve One Star and Two Star rank in the Australian Defence Force (ADF). Julie talked about the influence her parents had on her non-traditional career path and how they encouraged her to pursue study in areas she enjoyed and where she excelled.

Julie said that engineering is not easy — that it’s a challenging profession by nature, but young people, and particularly girls, should not shy away from anything just because it’s intellectually taxing. We are proud that Grammar girls embrace challenge and complexity and understand what it means to work hard.  Julie acknowledged that the gender balance in the engineering sector was only slowly improving, and that it remains essential for girls to be introduced to high quality maths and science teaching and inspiration while they are very young, to pique their interest even before they commence secondary school.

Julie Hammer’s advice for young girls to be successful in their careers was to ‘be hard-working, plan well and be professional and competent — if you’re a professional, it won’t take long to win respect’.

Ms Lucy Carne (1998), currently the Editor of Rendezview, is a persuasive and articulate multi-skilled journalist, with an editing and reporting career spanning Australia, Europe, UK and the USA. At the age of 27, Lucy Carne was appointed as Chief-of-Staff for Brisbane’s The Sunday Mail, making her Queensland’s youngest female Chief-of-Staff in history.

I asked Lucy how she handled the challenge of managing a team of thirty journalists, including many older men, and she responded, ‘with dogged commitment to quality that garnered the respect of my colleagues’. Lucy is a passionate believer that education is essential for any successful person, particularly when you’re taking a road less travelled. In journalism, that meant for her embracing the digital world, skilling herself in web design, analytics and SEO, and embracing change.

While Lucy recognises that inequality persists in her industry, a mindset she developed during her Girls Grammar schooling — that gender isn’t an obstacle — has continued to keep her grounded. Her three golden rules as a journalist are to keep emotions off the newsroom floor, to rise above the small stuff and to play the long game, not the short game.

Ms Georgie Somerset, an agricultural leader and strategist, is Vice President of AgForce Queensland and is on the boards of the Australian Broadcasting Commission, Children’s Health Queensland, the Royal Flying Doctor Service (Queensland) and the Queensland Rural Adjustment Authority.

In the early 1990s, at a time when the option to select ‘farmer’ as a career wasn’t even available to women on the Australian Census, Georgie founded the Queensland Rural Regional and Remote Women’s Network.

Georgie said that building a strong network was a key part of her success and is important for all women to do, whatever stage they may be at in their careers. She said, ‘Whether you’re just starting out, or you’re on the twenty-second floor, women must build scaffolding around them — with people who can support and guide them — including men.’

At Brisbane Girls Grammar School, when we ask our girls ‘to be the change they wish to see in the world’, we hope to give them the intellectual tools, the roadmap, the inspiration and the confidence to help them chart their course to success. Our engagement with Grammar Women and other inspiring women in the community is just one of the ways we do that. Our girls benefit from the wisdom, courage and determination of the women who came before them and are motivated to forge their way in the world, develop influence and create change.

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