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Still a long way to the top for Australian women?

The successful Australian woman is passionate, driven, focused, determined and resilient – but she has had to make a number of sacrifices in the name of success, and while regret might be too strong a word, she is fully aware of these sacrifices and is striving to ameliorate them.

These are the findings revealed in ‘Long Way to the Top’ a White Paper authored by Melbourne financial planner, Charmaine Curtain from Global Partnerships Financial Consulting.

Curtain said Long Way to the Top provides extraordinary insights into the Australian woman’s journey along the pathway to success and the challenges she continues to face.

“Australian women have jumped some amazing hurdles that a hundred years ago seemed insurmountable,” Curtain said. “They now hold some of the most powerful positions in the country – we have a female Prime Minister, two female state Premiers, a female Governor General and two female state Governors. One of our female executives – Gail Kelly – is ranked eighth in the Forbes 100 Most Powerful Women in the World.”

However, Curtain said that while Australian women have much to celebrate, they still have significant hurdles to overcome.

“Many of the women I interviewed believe they have made significant sacrifices in the name of success,” Curtain said. “These sacrifices included time, money and personal relationships. If my findings are typical, professional women are still being paid less than men, they still lack the financial resources or security to appropriately fund their own ventures, they still have poor access to business funding and they still have insufficient savings for retirement. In the twenty-first century, it is not good enough.”

Curtain said that her research suggests that successful women are powerful consumers and expect service that surpasses their expectations. The consumer is, in fact, Queen,” Curtain said. “If providers expect to win them as customers or clients they must deliver exceptional service.”

According to the findings, women want to be listened to, valued, appreciated and respected by service providers. “Service that takes into account how time poor professional women are and how torn they feel between home and work; lifestyle and career will win the day,” Curtain said.

Curtain also took the opportunity to thank the women she interviewed for the project.

“As a woman and as the owner of a business myself, I set out to discover how women achieved, in some instances, such outstanding success. I was curious about the barriers to success and how successful women had surmounted them,” she said. “But what I came away with was powerful insights into women, their ability to face obstacles, their great willingness to help each other and their generosity towards younger women just starting out on the corporate ladder. I feel as though I have been coached by some of the best women in the business – and for that I thank each and every one of them.”

Key findings

  • Many women (69%) believe they had sacrificed some aspect of their personal life in order to achieve success
  • More than half (58%) felt the challenges they face were the result of external put on them by others in the workplace
  • Almost half (41%) felt the challenges they face were the result of the internal pressure they put on themselves
  • Most (80%) felt women were overcoming these challenges
  • Most women (73%) were able to articulate an exact moment in business that stood out as a bad experience; only half were able to articulate a good experience
  • Women recognised they faced three major financial challenges – lack of security/financial backing to go into business; having enough money for retirement; being paid less than their male colleagues
  • More than half (53%) said they relax by doing some form of exercise – typically, walking
  • Most women were voracious readers, with 84% saying they read their daily newspaper regularly. Only 15% said they had abandoned the traditional paper format in favour of online versions. Many women (69%) also admitted to reading gossip/women’s magazines
  • Women are generous givers with 84% donating their time and/or money to charity/charity events. Children’s charities were far and away the most popular, with 81% of women favouring them

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Natalie Tsirimokos

Natalie Tsirimokos

Digital Editor of Dynamic Business

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