Annabel Crabb’s candid new book compels readers to rethink their ideas on how gender affects the work-and-family debate. With her words providing a thoughtful and engaging catalyst for conversation, her passion echoes that of other inspirational women we admire.
Journalist and author Annabel Crabb has reignited the work-life balance debate with the arrival of her new book, The Wife Drought. Crabb has sparked conversation with fresh thoughts about the role of men and women in both the workplace and home, and why every working person on a career path needs a ‘wife’.
Crabb is one of a group of admirable women who aren’t afraid to put their views out there and stand up for their values. We reflected on five equally talented women who have inspired, motivated and challenged us to think differently through their life experiences and philosophies.
Key message: Fight against sexism
On June 24th 2010, Julia Gillard made history as Australia’s first ever female Prime Minister. Entering Australia’s highest position of power as an unmarried, childless and non-religious woman, Gillard achieved something that would have been inconceivable in American politics, but the progressiveness she symbolised failed to inspire national pride.
During her three years as Prime Minister, Gillard steered an in-fighting minority government, endured a relentlessly negative Opposition leader, a hostile media and bewilderingly disproportionate levels of vitriol. It quickly became clear that her gender was intertwined in all aspects of her experience – so much so that her achievements – guiding 532 pieces of legislation through a hung parliament, including crucial social and environmental reforms – were often overlooked.
Although Gillard’s legacy includes a revolutionary national insurance system for the disabled, as well as education and tax reforms, she made international headlines for entirely different reasons. Delivering a speech that ranks among the most notable political oratories in political history, addressing comments made by then Opposition leader Tony Abbott, Gillard demonstrated she was not afraid to express her views and ignited conversation about modern feminism. In fact, it is this courage, passion and resilience that she’ll always be remembered for.
“I will not be lectured about sexism and misogyny by this man,” Gillard said. “If he wants to know what misogyny looks like in modern Australia, he doesn’t need a motion in the House of Representatives, he needs a mirror.”
Gillard provides her own account of her extraordinary life in her book My Story, relating the highs and lows of a turbulent political career.
Key message: ‘Lean in’ and be heard in the boardroom
Before “lean in” became a common catch-phrase, Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg explored the idea of encouraging women to close the “ambition gap” in her 2013 bestselling book, Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead. It focused on facing the anxieties and prejudices that prevent women from reaching the top.
The book spawned thousands of Lean In Circles. Lean In Circle groups are one of the ways LeanIn.org supports women. “Circles” or small groups meet monthly to encourage members to support one another while building trust.
With a net worth of around $1 billion, Sandberg joined The Giving Pledge, vowing to give away at least half of her net worth to charity. Sandberg’s message refers to “leaning” further into all aspects of life and taking advantage of both professional and personal opportunities that crop up.
Key message: Sleep your way to the top
Arianna Huffington, co-founder and editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post is on a mission to revolutionise our approach to the work/life balance.
Huffington’s new book Thrive encourages men and women to stop buying into the myth that working overtime and pushing levels of exhaustion is the only way to the top.
Her personal wake-up call came in the form of a broken cheekbone after a fall brought on by lack of sleep.
Consequently, Huffington writes about the transformative effects of sleep, meditation, mindfulness and the freeing effects of unplugging from technology, urging us to re-assess our definition of success and our approach to it.
Key message: Career is one thing, health is more
Known as the legendary former editor of the The Australian Women’s Weekly and 2013 Australian of the Year, Buttrose now uses her media profile for advocating medical education and health care such as raising awareness for breast cancer, HIV/AIDS and prostate cancer.
As one of Australia’s most admired women, Buttrose paved the way by becoming the youngest ever editor of The Australian Women’s Weekly, the founding editor of Cleo, the editor-in-chief of The Daily Telegraph and The Sunday Telegraph and the first woman to ever edit a major metropolitan newspaper in Australia.
If that wasn’t enough, Buttrose was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE). She now advocates for various health initiatives and organisations, including her role as a patron of the Macular Degeneration Foundation and president of Alzheimer’s Australia. Her passion has seen her awarded an AO for outstanding services to the community in the field of public health.
Buttrose’s extraordinary life and distinguished career is captured in A Passionate Life, a memoir giving insight into the inner workings of the Australian media, current affairs and her insider perspective on media giants Kerry Packer and Rupert Murdoch. She also delves into her life as a working mother during these years.
Key message: Give power and a voice to rural women
Bestselling author Nicole Alexander is regarded as a true Australian storyteller of fiction and is the author of five novels: The Bark Cutters, A Changing Land, Absolution Creek, Sunset Ridge and the upcoming The Great Plains. With over 25 years of experience, Alexander has published novels, poetry, travel and genealogy articles internationally. Her work is continually praised for its authenticity and faithful historical detail.
As a fourth-generation grazier, Alexander currently works as the business manager at her rural family property and is admired for being a strong female professional role model. She is celebrated by others in rural Australia for giving a voice to women in rural communities, and was awarded with ‘NSW Barwon Woman of the Year’ as part of the 2012 NSW Woman of the Year Awards.
Written by: Thea Christie
Annabel Crabb’s call is for a ceasefire in the gender wars. Rather than a shout of rage, The Wife Drought is the thoughtful, engaging catalyst for a conversation that’s long overdue. To find out more about The Wife Drought by Annabel Crabb, visit Random House.