A bigger, better, bolder Women in Media

By Cath Webber and Kathy McLeish

Leading the board of Women in Media has been an enormous privilege for both of us, with plenty of sweat, a few tears (but luckily no blood!) and lots of laughs. Recreating our brand to be bigger, better and bolder has been a challenging – and enormously rewarding – task.

We reviewed WiM’s journey to date, questioned why we were here and wondered what we could bring to a new chapter of Women In Media. And that meant going right back to the basics – what’s the best way we can effect change for women working in the media, and for women represented in the media?

Our remit is broad, our country is large, and we’re advocating for women working in the media for better pay, yet we are a not-for-profit asking working women in the media to volunteer their time to help us? The irony wasn’t lost on us so we did what many of us do when facing an overwhelming sense of responsibility – we went shopping for a new look!

Refreshing our brand, logo and our website ensured we had to go back to our purpose, what our values were, our mission statement and why we donate our time when there are so many other worthy causes.

We have spent more than a year on strategy meetings, national phone hook-ups, email chains (that would give War and Peace a good run for its money) and late nights when it occurred to us that after our complicated deep dive … the answer was actually pretty simple: we provide mentoring, we facilitate networking, we educate and equip at our events – and so therefore we empower.

And because of our warm tribe of WiMers around the country – YOU – we lead a pretty powerful national group of women who will push for change together.

But we weren’t quite national so we created committees in Tasmania and the Northern Territory.

When we first approached women in Tasmania and the Northern Territory, it helped us realise the value of WiM. It wasn’t until we spoke with women in various cities and towns that we realised how much of a support network they’d been missing out on, which we had enjoyed in other states for years.

We have been collecting data from women in media around the country, setting up initiatives aimed at increasing the number of women in management and working closely with media companies to help navigate our changing industry.

And so here we are. We’re now looking ahead to a year of inspiring and informative WiM events in ALL states and territories, more networking and the trial of a new mentoring program aimed at connecting more women, with a new element for peer-to-peer mentoring.

We’ll also be focusing on the representation of women in the media, which is where you can all help make a change too. If you’re preparing a story or pitching to media, ask yourself – is there a woman who can say that? We need to see more women in our news, on television and in films. Women are under-represented in all of these areas – right down to cartoons. In fact, we don’t even make up 20% of extras in the background of films.

We are so used to it, we don’t even realise we are missing!

Unconscious bias is partly to blame and once you become aware of this, it’s impossible to ignore.

We are influenced by what we see, read and watch, as are young girls.

Let’s all help change the under-representation of women in the media.

Women In Media simply would not be possible without our dedicated committee members. Your state committee is made up of working women volunteering their time out of sheer determination to change the industry.

After juggling their own calendar to fit in work, kids, partners, carer’s work and a plethora of other commitments, they’re working for you for free. We can’t thank them enough – it really does take a village to make WiM events happen … and sometimes, wine.

On top of that, we are incredibly grateful to our guest speakers and mentors who volunteer their time in the spirit of giving back to the industry. We are always amazed that these high-profile, busy women who could charge hefty fees donate their time so enthusiastically and graciously to help their fellow Australian women.

But in reality, we’re not surprised. It’s what we do so well; build community and advocate and support others. Now, we’re doing it for each other.

And of course we want to thank all our WiMers – those of you who attend our events and support us. We knew WiM had a loyal membership when our first national conference was a sell-out. You’re our number one priority and we want to make sure we keep delivering what matters to you, so please get in contact with any ideas or suggestions.

Women in Media is set to expand and we have some big ideas for the future so we’d love all of you to be part of it.

We love WiM.

We love the warmth of our members at our events – it’s addictive.

We love the passion members dedicate to help other women – it’s infectious.

And we firmly believe that on top of all the hard work it’s essential to have fun – and we will try and make sure the fun factor is contagious!

Thank you for supporting us and being part of new WiM tribe.

Cath Webber and Kathy McLeish are co-chairs of Women in Media

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