12 October 2018
The annual She Leads High Conference is a one-day leadership event for young women, including female identifying and non-binary people, in years 9 and 10. The event will take place at the University of Canberra’s Ann Harding Conference Centre on 1 November 2018.
In this interview, we talk to Laura Campbell who is returning once again in 2018 to MC at the upcoming She Leads High Conference. Laura is a local disability activist, body positivity activist, feminist and comedian. During her time as an ANU Psychology/Law student, Laura was involved in a range of programs and associations working to advocate for people with disabilities. During her ANU years, she had been heavily involved in leadership and advocacy work has been the ANUSA Disabilities Officer and later the Executive ANUSA Education Officer and a member of the Global Undergraduate Leadership Program. Through these roles, Laura worked toward creating a strong community focus in a diversity of experience with self-advocacy and love, creating such initiatives as ANU’s Spoon Week and Self Love Week. In 2016, Laura took the large leap into the world of stand-up comedy. From coming runner-up in 2017’s Triple J’s RAW state finals to having sold out runs in the Canberra and Melbourne International Comedy Festival, Laura has been sharing her experience as a woman with a disability. Performing with the like of Matt Okine, David Hughes, Josh Earl, Nazeem Hussain, Akmal and Kirsty Webeck, Laura is an arising star within the Australian comedy scene.
Describe your leadership journey in 30 words or less.
Everchanging. I believe that the leadership journey is really linked to your personal growth and change. As you change and grow as a person, so shall you change and grow as a leader.
What has been (or is) the biggest challenge you have encountered in your leadership journey?
My biggest challenge was understanding boundaries within my personal and professional life. Understanding that putting in personal boundaries around your self and care of yourself was not selfish but proactive. Also, understanding that taking care of yourself proactively and having a sustainable long game was actually more beneficial to the people around you.
Why is it important that we increase the number of girls and women in leadership positions? How does this impact on gender equality?
I think that as a society, we have been taught there is only one type of leader/leadership style. These qualities are often associated with stereotypically masculine qualities. However, there are so many different types of leaders and ways to lead. As our world grows, we need to value diversity in our leaders and explore different styles of leadership to best fit our ever-expanding community. Having women in leadership helps redefine what we see as a “leader” and the qualities or stereotypes we have around “what makes a leader”. Also, representation matters! Having a diverse range of women in leadership, in all areas, not only shows current society the value of gender equality but also reiterates to the next generation that gender equality should be an expectation that each society adheres to from the very beginning.
If there was one resource that you recommend every future girl/woman leader would read or view what would it be?
I think this is just the best introduction for any young woman about feminism. It talks about the fundamental ideas of equality, the social expectation put upon young women and how this shapes their worldview and ultimately their lives. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie also wrote a follow-up book which I am happy to lend to any women out there because it is a heck of a read!
If you could give one piece of advice to yourself in high school, what would it be?
Be kinder. That’s it…seriously. Just. Be. Kinder. You will spend so much of your twenties looking back on the moments in high school that defined parts of you. Some of those moments will make you happy and some will even make you laugh, some will drown you in sadness and some will make you cringe so hard in the middle of the night, that you physically shake your head trying to toss them out of your grey matter. However, the moments that you will always be able to look back on and think nothing more than “yes…yes, that was ok” were the moments where you were kind. Moments where you cherished kindness over being funny or popular or cool. Moments where you were kind to people around you, but most importantly moments where you were kind to yourself. So be kinder- you will thank me for it later!!