Julia Gillard is on a mission. Specifically, to help create a world in which being a woman is not a barrier to leadership in any field.
Needless to say, she has one hell of a battle on her hands.
The former – and first female – Australian Prime Minister has been named as the inaugural chair – and thus, will be at the helm – of the new Global Institute for Women’s Leadership with King’s College London, Sydney Morning Herald reports.
The institute’s agenda is simple: To uncover what removes obstacles to equality, research strategies known to work and ensure people employ them.
The idea is Gillard’s own, something she came up with while spending two weeks at King’s College as a visiting fellow. She has signed a three-year contract but told the Sydney Morning Herald she would consider staying longer. She will spend two months a year in London.
But she has her work cut out for her, citing data that shows women in senior management positions have only increased by 1% in the past decade, bringing it to 25%.
Looking at the numbers, Gillard is convinced that, at this rate, it will take 200 years before men and women will have equal work opportunities unless the pace of change speeds up.
The plan, is to identify women in positions in power, identify the gaps in understanding, how progress is made and to then work with policy makers to create tangible plans for actions.
According to the institute, many of the barriers to full equality are implicit, such as influential male networks and “pervasive gender stereotyping” causing women to be commonly overlooked for leadership roles.
Since leaving office, Gillard, who is also the chair of Beyond Blue, has become increasingly interested in unconscious bias and the cultural underpinnings of how we view men versus women.
Despite having been one of the country’s most prolific female leaders, she has no doubt the criticism she received while in office stemmed at least partly from her gender.
“I feel like I lived it,” she told the ABC, also acknowledging that gender did not explain everything about her prime ministership.
“But there was this thread of gender and post getting out I’ve been able to be more analytical about that thread.”