Throw down a ‘big fishing net’

#CelebratingWomen campaign is one of many ways women can elevate each other.

By Annabel Fuller

Dr Kirstin Ferguson has been an airforce officer, CEO, lawyer, company director, mother and Walkley Foundation Our Watch Award finalist. She has earned the titles of role model and leader but says deep down every woman possesses the same qualities.

At the start of 2017, Ferguson wrote an opinion piece for Women’s Agenda suggesting there needed to be more celebration and less denigration of women online.

Leading by example, she embarked on a bold campaign to post two profiles of women from anywhere in the world and from all walks of life, every single day in 2017.

By the end of the #CelebratingWomen campaign, 757 women from 37 countries had been showcased, inspiring others everywhere.

“It created a huge momentum of women supporting women,” Ferguson says.

“Too often we just focus on the really high-profile women, whereas every woman is contributing in their own way and we need to take more time to celebrate them as every woman is a role model, doing something that will inspire someone else.”

The #CelebratingWomen campaign was just one of many ways that women can elevate each other, she says.

“It’s really easy to amplify and support one another,” Ferguson says.

“Don’t believe the stereotypes that women are trying to tear each other down, it’s just not supported by the evidence.

“Mentoring, putting women forward for speaking engagements, liking and commenting on their social media posts or buying from their businesses are just some of the simple ways women can support one another.”

Throughout the highs and lows of her career, Ferguson hopes her gender never limited her success even when working in male-dominated fields.

“I didn’t want to focus on my gender because I just wanted to be recognised for what I was doing and being seen as a leader, not as a female leader,” she says.

However, she noticed a shift in her awareness when she broke through the glass ceiling.

“As you begin to have influence, you can’t help but open your eyes to some of the inequalities facing all women,” Ferguson says. As a result, Ferguson strongly advocates for more diversity within leadership roles with the goal of unifying all leaders regardless of age, gender and ethnicity.

Her attitude speaks to uplifting the masses.

“You know the old saying that if you should be so fortunate to be successful, you should lower down a ladder so that the other women can climb up behind you?” she says.

“Well, I think we need to forget the bloody ladder. The ladder only ever supports one person at a time, and in fact, it is designed so that you hold on for dear life so that no one can get past.

“What we all can do is throw down a big fishing net to bring up many, many women together.”

Ferguson says it’s imperative that women lift each other up.

“Remember we are not all in this alone, it takes a village and to succeed it takes other women too who are supportive and all wanting us to achieve,” she says.

Her advice to other women starting their careers: “Value and respect the time, advice and commitment other people give you and make sure you give it back to others.”

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