5 quick questions with Laura Burr

30 January 2018

Jessica Abramovic

Jessica is the Communications and Events Coordinator at YWCA Canberra.

The She Leads In-Conversation Series provides Canberrans with the opportunity to hear from women leaders from different backgrounds and industries in a conversational format, followed by a live Q&A session, networking, and canapes. Our February In-Conversation event will feature Nayuka Gorrie and Laura Burr, centering around the challenges faced by young women and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women alike, in our communities, society, and workplaces.

Laura has been a member of YWCA Canberra since she moved to Canberra in 2016. Her volunteering and focus on feminist and cross-cultural studies led to international opportunities at the Bhutanese Office of the Attorney General on developing their domestic violence policies in 2015, and in 2016 to Thailand and Myanmar with ANU to produce research on transnational security issues such as human trafficking, ethnic conflicts and anti-narcotics border trade. Laura’s career in government has seen her work at the QLD Supreme and District Courts, Australian Bureau of Statistics, the Commonwealth Ombudsman and now as a Senior Policy Officer at the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science.

Describe your leadership journey in 30 words or less.

To dream big and encourage other women to think that way as well. I love that I do not know where opportunities could take me 10 years from now.

What was (or is) your biggest leadership challenge?

Continuing to show the world all the love and compassion in my heart every day, and not allowing the patriarchy to get us down or in our way!

Why do we need more women leaders, and what difference can women in leadership make in terms of gender equality?

Actively empowering gender equality through having women leaders is an uncontroversial approach to innovating and maximising the full potential of our workforce and communities. It is imperative that barriers to gender equality be an utmost priority to further diversify and enhance the available talent pool because there is so much more to access. It is also vital that gender equality is addressed from bottom to top rather than just top to bottom with women in leadership supporting those beneath them and eventually getting out of the way for other women to experience the same opportunities. This ensures that the next generation can maximise our contribution and opportunity. An intersectional approach is crucial to represent all those who we aim to serve. Trickle-down economics does not work just as trickle-down feminism does not.

What book should every aspiring woman leader read?

Every woman should try to read as much as possible from all different experiences and disciplines. Knowledge is power and equipping yourself with the tools to learn about history and different concepts will empower you. Understanding how structural inequality manifests will help us deconstruct it. I believe there is a book on absolutely everything, so find those on your passion or memoirs of your role models and see how they got there to assist you on your path.

Share with us the best piece of advice you’ve been given.

Good things go to those who show up. When considering if I should go for an opportunity, I remind myself that I have nothing to lose and that the more confident male version of me would have no doubts about pursuing it. Trusting my instincts has also rarely ever failed me. If something does not feel right, do not ignore it and know that you do not need to justify why to yourself or anyone else.

You can hear more from Nayuka Gorrie and Laura Burr at the She Leads In-Conversation on Tuesday 13 February – secure your ticket online today!

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