International Women’s Day: Shattering the glass ceiling  

The glass ceiling is a metaphor used to represent an invisible barrier that keeps a given demographic from rising beyond a certain level in a hierarchy. The metaphor was first coined by feminists in reference to barriers in the careers of high-achieving women.  

Life for Australian women has changed dramatically over the decades. Some of us are old enough to have lived through the changes, but even then we tend to forget how different it was until reminded. 

If you are a married person now, who grew up in the seventies and eighties (like me) chances are your parent’s marriage and lifestyle was vastly different to how you live now.

For instance, my mother didn’t work for the first 15 years of my life, she didn’t drive and her home-time dress code was an apron and rollers in her hair. She served up meat and three veg at precisely 6 o’clock on the dot so it would be piping hot when Dad walked in the door. 

By stark contrast, I work, I drive and my standard home-time dress code is pyjamas and two inches of regrowth in my hair.  

My husband Greg and I share the cooking duties, and more often than not if it’s my turn we are getting  Chinese on Uber Eats.

A line springs to mind from the old song from Mary Poppins, circa 19  Sister Suffragettes:  ‘No more the meek and mild subservients we; we’re fighting for our rights, militantly.’ 

And fight they did!

It is somewhat hard to imagine now, a world where women were not allowed to vote.  And although we were leaders of sorts by being the second country to “allow” it (hello New Zealand #1) we didn’t allow Aboriginal women to until much later.  On that note, Aboriginal men couldn’t vote either, but that’s another story for another day.

Women were once not allowed to open a bank account without their husband’s permission; therefore they couldn’t take out loans or have access to their own savings.  My head hurts just typing this! 

Far less women had jobs or an income, and prior to the contraceptive pill being introduced had little alternatives on how their life would be played out.

Did you know that we once lived in times where if you were a female and enjoyed an alcoholic beverage, you’d be sat in a “Ladies Lounge” at the pub because women were banned from entering the public bar?

My grandmother used to tell me about my grandfather courting her.  Many of their “dates” consisted of her sitting in a tiny room of the pub knitting him a scarf, along with several other girlfriends doing the same, while the blokes they hoped to marry drank up a storm in the main bar. 

Can you imagine!  

Thank goodness those days are gone and on International Womens Day, March 8, its a great time reflect on how far we’ve come – because it is proof that change can and does happen.  

Let’s hope some of passion and drive that eventuated in previous changes can be captured.  We need it to push for some important changes for the future – such as pay equality and stamping out domestic violence.