On 8 March 2017 the Commission marked International Women’s Day by organising a Speed Mentoring event for young women studying at high school and tertiary organisations.
The event was held at the Uniting Church in the City Hall, where 16 inspirational women mentors, including former WA Chief Scientist and Western Australian of the year Prof Lyn Beazley and Federal MP Dr Anne Aly, gave advice to 17 young women in eight-minute time slots.
The Acting Commissioner John Byrne said the speed mentoring event fitted in well with the Commission’s focus on youth for the 2016-17 financial year.
“The event is aimed at young women graduating from secondary school and at tertiary level starting their career paths and entering the workforce,” he said.
Dr Byrne said the Committee for Perth’s Filling the Pool report identified mentors as ‘critically important’ to workplace gender equity.
“There is still a gender pay gap of 23 per cent in Western Australia, which is the largest in the country and a low representation of women on boards and in executive level positions,” he said.
Dr Byrne said the Commission wanted to do something practical to engage youth on International Women’s Day to help them overcome the issues affecting workplace gender equality and raise awareness about equal opportunity.
“Young women need to know there is support for them following their career paths.”
“There are laws in place to deal with sex discrimination and harassment in the workplace and there are fantastic female role models happy to help them along the way,” he said.
Prof Beazley agreed mentoring was an incredibly important step towards improving gender equality.
“(Mentoring) events are so important as they help to build a better future in which everyone’s talents are nurtured and flourish,” she said.
“My favourite aspect was that the impressive group of mentors had the opportunity to talk to students on a one-to-one basis, hearing their individual plans, dreams and perceived hurdles,” she said.
Mentees also benefited from the event. A student from Mercedes College said the event was ‘a wonderful opportunity’ and the speakers were ‘inspirational’.