Diversity can be divisive. Polarisation of opinion, religious beliefs and political rhetoric has fuelled the dissensions of the ages.
But in the new economy, there is a contemporary currency in play where companies now recognise that in order to succeed in the global marketplace and drive innovation, they must embrace diversity, and attract and retain a dynamic workforce mix of enterprise skill-sets, problem-solving mindsets and a wide cross-section of human value-sets. And that means actively cultivating a diverse mix of people in the room.
This all sounds easy done.
But unfortunately we've still got a long way to go before diversity becomes the business norm. Unconscious biases, deeply entrenched backward workplace culture and a lack of strong leadership means diversity often slips down the triage of most company agendas and they stay stuck in status quo.
Which is why powerful women like Yassmin Abdel-Magied need to continue to speak up for diversity, and challenge status quo to push for greater gender, cultural, age and religious diversity in traditional industries.
Abdel-Magied is a brilliant example of what it means to be a change-maker and strong female leader on every front and her list of accolades is long.
A mechanical engineer, author, social advocate and internationally sought-after speaker who founded Youth Without Borders at the age of 16, Abdel-Magied's @TED talk What does my headscarf mean to you which explores unconscious bias has been viewed millions of times, she published her first book, Yassmin's Story, aged just 24, and her thought-provoking commentary has appeared in The New York Times, The Guardian and internationally on the BBC.
If you haven’t caught any of that, you’ve no doubt caught Abdel-Magied on TV, currently hosting ABC's weekly show, Australia Wide. and appearing as a regular guest panelist on Q&A, The Drum, The Project, and on Triple J's Hack Radio National. Tapping her self-confessed side passion as a full blown motorhead, Abdel-Magied is also host of the motorsport podcast Motor Mouth, and spearheaded the groundbreaking documentary The Truth About Racism.
The point is this.
Yassmin Abdel-Magied is a total hands-down dynamo, and whether you agree with her or not, at girledworld we think we need more women like her to stand up and call out injustice, ignite the difficult conversations we need to have, and challenge the next generation to unpack invisible biases, rethink what's normal and advocate for greater diversity, parity and representation of females across the board.
Abdel-Magied is well credentialed and her advocacy work has been recognised with multiple awards.
Named one of Australia’s most influential engineers by Engineers Australia, and recognized for her work in diversity by the United Kingdom’s Institute of Mechanical Engineers, she was also the youngest woman named in Australia’s 100 Women of Influence by the Australian Financial Review in 2012, was named Young Muslim of the Year in 2007 and Muslim Youth of the Year in 2015.
More recently, Abdel-Magied Co-founded Mumtaza - the world's first speakers bureau for women of colour - with M-Time, Foundation for Young Australians and G20 entrepreneurs Dr Yan-Ting Choong and Sarah Agboola, and Maeva Heim of the League of Extraordinary Women - all amazing women in their own right, who alongside Abdel-Magied, will also join us at the girledworld Summit to share their stories.
In a recent panel discussion at the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association’s annual conference on the topic of diversity and inclusion, Abdel-Magied said she didn't really consider and embrace diversity until two years ago when she began working in the male-dominated oil and gas industry working on rigs in Western Australia and Queensland.
“I hated the idea of feminism! I was like, ‘feminism is for chicks who can’t handle jokes’,” she said.
“I thought people who kept talking about diversity and inclusion were people that studied arts. They weren’t engineers. But it wasn’t until I went into the industry and I saw the reality that I actually started to think, maybe this is a thing I should care about.”
After gaining a job as an engineer, Abdel-Magied said she had no idea how to act because she “had no one to show me what it was like to be a successful woman on a rig”.
“So I pretended to be a middle-aged white bloke,” she said, adopting the swearing and swaggering of her male colleagues until she realised her behaviour was reinforcing, and not shifting, the existing culture.
“I was undoing myself, I was undoing my gender, I was undoing my cultural heritage,” she said.
Please join Abdel-Magied and the Mumtaza founders to unpack this story, explore diversity and push the gender agenda with hundreds of secondary school aged girls at the 2017 @girledworld APAC Summit at the University of Melbourne the weekend of June 24/25.
We've put together a TED-style interactive learning event for teenage girls, and it's exceptional women like Abdel-Magied who will empower, inspire and educate our young audience with her incredible stories of hardship and leadership as a woman paving the way in the world.
We think the world needs more women like her in it. 👏🏽
Girledworld Leadership Summit 2017
The girledworld Leadership Summit is the 2017 flagship event of female-founded startup girledworld.
Proudly supported by the Victorian Government and opened by Honourable Minister Philip Dalidakis, the Summit will be held at the University of Melbourne's Wade Institute of Entrepreneurship, where Co-Founders Madeleine Grummet and Edwina Kolomanski launched the business whilst completing a Master of Entrepreneurship in 2016.
The Summit is the first of its kind, and will be an exceptional opportunity for girls in Years 7 to Year 12 in Australian secondary schools to immerse in skill-building leadership workshops, hear incredible, transformative stories of startup success and STEM career advice from wildly inspiring and extraordinary female mentors, and experience first-hand the 21st century innovations and cultivation of enterprise skill-sets that will define the future workplaces they will inhabit.
On top of this there'll be powerful leadership public speaking programs (think TED for girls), collaborative and interactive Design Thinking, teamwork and prototype workshops, mentor-led expert experiential learning opportunities, deep dives into STEM, coding, virtual reality and the world of tech, keynotes from rockstar global female leaders and homegrown startup founders (Airbnb, IBM, StartupVic, Frank Body, LaunchVic, Atlassian, Girl Geek Academy, The Hacker Exchange, Adore Beauty, TOM Organic, AirWallex, Mumtaza, Melbourne Accelerator Program, Foundation for Young Australians + many more amazing women and teenage founders!), plus a chance for our audience to test their learning and Q&A with speakers so they can bring back these learnings to school every day and plug and play.