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The results of a poll of top achieving women who are finalists in the 2013 Telstra Business Women’s Awards, has revealed that career breaks can spur positive change.

Contrary to the popular belief that career breaks, whether it be for maternity leave, study, or extended travel tend to negatively impact a woman’s career – it can also be a catalyst to reassess a career path, become an entrepreneur, or try something new.

Of the 115 state and territory finalists from around Australia:

  • 36% said a break spurred them to try something different;
  • 55% said the break enabled them reassess their life and career; and
  • 87% agreed that taking on parenting responsibilities could actually be a catalyst for becoming an entrepreneur.

Yet negative impacts and significant challenges were also felt by many of the women polled.

  • Four in ten women said they found it difficult to re-enter the workforce in the same capacity;
  • One-third believe it negatively impacted wealth creation; and
  • 20% believe women find it difficult to be considered for a role equal to their experience.

Other notable findings from the poll included the persistence of the gender pay gap. Some 44 per cent of respondents said they have experienced an inequity in pay for a like role held by a male colleague. Asked why the pay gap still exists, 53 per cent said the workplace still favours males and 46 per cent said women find asking for money intimidating.

The survey was undertaken in the lead-up to the national finals of the Telstra Business Women’s Awards in Melbourne on 14 November. The Awards are in their 19th year of celebrating the achievements of outstanding Australian business women.

The eight women who are finalists for the title of 2013 Telstra Australian Business Woman of the Year are:

Jeannine Biviano, Deputy Director General, Department of Trade and Investment (NSW);

Sonja Cox, Director Operational Performance, Policy & Planning, Dept of Corrective Services (WA);

Laura McBain, CEO Bellamy’s Organic (Tasmania);

Dr Julia Newton-Howes, CEO CARE Australia (ACT);

Cheryl Shigrov, Founder of Precious Cargo Education Pty Ltd (SA);

Sadhana Smiles, CEO Harcourts Victoria (Victoria);

Helen Summers, Owner of Helen Summers Optometrist Eyecare Plus Darwin, (NT);

Rosemary Vilgan, CEO of QSuper, (Queensland).

Stephanie Zillman

Stephanie Zillman

Stephanie is the editor-at-large of Dynamic Business. Stephanie brings with her a passion for journalism, business, and new ideas. On her days off, you might find her reading a book on the beach.

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