9 March 2018
The She Leads College Conference, taking place on Thursday 22 March, is a one-day event for girls in years 11 and 12, equipping participants with the practical skills and knowledge they need to become confident leaders. This year, we have an amazing line-up of inspiring young women who will discuss their pathways as trailblazers. Today, we chat to Ashleigh Streeter, one of our incredible speed-networkers.
Ashleigh Streeter is the 2018 ACT Woman of the Year, and has explored her passion for international affairs through working in the development sector. She has worked alongside groups including the Young Australians in International Affairs and the Campaign for Australian Aid, and began her career working with World Vision for four years in fundraising and youth advocacy. She has a background in not for profits, and is experienced in youth leadership, strategic campaigning, political advocacy, and was invited to run two workshops at the Youth Commission on the Status of Women 2017, before attending NGO Commission on the Status of Women in New York and joining the UN Youth Task Force. Ashleigh currently sits on the Australian Civil Society Coalition for Women Peace and Security, as well as being part of Plan International’s Youth Activist Series, running the Girls Takeover in October 2017. Her volunteer experience involves working on projects to empower young women including the Gender Chat twitter series (@GenderChat). She has recently started as a board trainee with YWCA Canberra, and ran the Future 21 Young Australians in International Affair’s annual conference last year.
Describe your leadership journey in 30 words or less.
What was (or is) your biggest leadership challenge?
By far, my biggest leadership challenge remains self-doubt. I know I’ve got enough experience in leading teams, knowledge in particular areas, but I’m still plagued by the question “am I right for this? Why should people be listening to me?” As women, we’re constantly taught to be modest, to undervalue our achievements, and focus on those around us. Ambition and success are perceived negatively, and we’re judged harshly for owning our successes. As a result, we constantly downplay what we do to the point of forgetting to celebrate and value our own work and outcomes.
While I recognise this is happening, and constantly encourage my friends and other women around me to own their successes, it remains one of my greatest areas for improvement.
Why do we need more women leaders, and what difference can women in leadership make in terms of gender equality?
A phrase that’s kept coming back to me this past 12 months is “you cannot be what you cannot see”. This is true in so many ways, and it’s a critical reason why we need more female leaders.
Female leaders are important for changing the conversation around success and what good leadership looks like. We’re expected to have a nurturing leadership style while achieving outcomes possibly even better than our male counterparts and we’re also expected to fit in with the boys’ club. Yet we are criticized for trying to amalgamate. We know that women – on the whole – are better negotiators, are more inclusive decision makers, and bring alternative perspectives to create better business decisions.
What book should every aspiring woman leader read?
Lean In. For me, this was the first book that put into perspective a lot of the things that I was beginning to notice about the leadership gap and gave me an explanation. However, I recognise that the book is written to reflect a particularly privileged experience, and I’ve read some absolutely fantastic books since then that both reinforce some of the messages present in Lean In, and provide a different experience. Ultimately, the underlying themes are the same – women experience discrimination in the workforce, and how to best combat this discrimination.
Share with us the best piece of advice you’ve been given.
Proceed with the confidence of a mediocre white man or, conversely, what would a mediocre white man do?