Sharpen your pencils and uncap your pens ladies — you’ve got until 5pm tomorrow to fill out a nomination form to earn a place among the chosen 1000 at Kevin Rudd’s 2020 summit.

Crikey began compiling a long list of capable women overqualified to fit any and every slot on the 2020 summit steering committee yesterday, so if you’re not inclined to nominate yourself, or if you happen to be a man, take a look at the suggestions below, a sample of the many kindly contributed by Crikey readers.

Glyn Davis defended the committee makeup yesterday. “In selecting these co-chairs, we sought to achieve as close to gender balance as possible,” Professor Davis said yesterday, through a spokeswoman no less.  “We knew that six out of 10 ministerial co-chairs would be female, so it was against that background – and the issue of availability — that we were trying to match up co-chairs.”

Either Professor Davis’ calculator is broken, or there’s some creative mathematics going on here. The female representation on the steering committee still equates to 35%. And 35% does not make 51% (the proportion of women in the entire Australian population.)

And given that the co-chairs are all politicians, that leaves Cate Blanchett to act as the sole representative of female civilians from the business world, the arts, science, media, social services and the sustainability industry who don’t live and breathe the rarified air of Canberra. Cate’s a very capable woman, but she’s only one woman.

So, for anyone interested in nominating themselves — or someone else — to redress the balance, click on the form:

Pru Goward and Natasha Stott-Despoja joined the chorus of disappointed women yesterday. They echoed the point that this is not about tokenism, it’s about compiling a group of interesting, surprising and unrepresented people who together will produce interesting, surprising, and unrepresented ideas.

Here’s some additions to the list from our very helpful Crikey readers:

Dr Jocelynne A. Scutt, Barrister & Human Rights Lawyer writes: For the Australian economy category – what about the redoubtable Therese Rein?

Miriam Lyons writes: For what it’s worth, if the summit itself is going to have interesting and unpredictable outcomes (which is the only justification for holding it at all) I think the key qualification for membership of the steering committee is not necessarily expertise in one field but a knack for hunting out creative thinkers and unusual suspects and then designing a smart process for facilitating their contributions.

For that reason I’d dob in someone like Kylie Murphy, who ran Brisbane’s excellent Ideas Festival for several years. And perhaps May Miller-Dawkins (former head of Oxfam’s International Youth Parliament, now running Oxfam’s new research institute).

But on an issue-by-issue basis I’d add:

  1. Ann Sherry (CEO, Carnival Australia), and (on the education/innovation angle) Denise Bradley (former VC SA uni).
  2. Janette Hartz Karp (community engagement consultant who has done a lot of work with WA planning minister Alana Mactiernan) or (digital economy only) Dale Spender.
  3. No suggestions. Everyone I can think of with good ideas/networks in this area is in an NGO, which is probably not what they’re looking for.
  4. Janelle Allison (Director of the Centre for Regional & Rural Innovation).
  5. Prue Power (Executive Director of the Australian Healthcare & Hospitals Association, former AMA Director of General Practice and e-Health) and Diane Ball (CEO of the Australian College of Health Services Executives).
  6. Jan Owen (Social Ventures Australia).
  7. Dameeli Coates (National Indigenous Youth Movement of Australia).
  8. Kylie Murphy (former Brisbane Ideas Festival Director, former Ozco Community Cultural Development manager).
  9. Meredith Edwards (Emeritus Professor, National Institute for Governance, University of Canberra).
  10. Martine Lets (Deputy Director of the Lowy Institute for International Policy. Former Secretary General (CEO) of Australian Red Cross and had a 17-year career with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade).

Despina N. Anagnostou writes: I couldn’t agree more; there were clearly many women from which the PM could have chosen for the other nine positions on his steering committee, and I wish that he hadn’t embarrassed himself — because it is an embarrassment — by stacking it with blokes. But this is not the only concern for me. Perhaps because I myself have a ‘funny’ name, I often look at such lists for other ‘funny’ names, as a vague indication of the representation of persons of a non-English speaking background on such board or committee. In this committee, there looks to be one, in Dr Kelvin Kong. Further, of the women named in this Crikey article, few if any of them appear to be of a non-English speaking background. This is not 1955 when my mother skipped off a boat from Greece. There are now many well-qualified, well-respected and accomplished Australians with non-English speaking backgrounds, but in my admittedly very crude studies of lists, such persons are significantly under-represented on boards and committees of note, as well as in informal polls such as the one undertaken by Crikey. I can’t help but wonder why.

Keith Thomas writes: Surely the point is not to get more women to the summit, but to get fresh ideas there. Most of the names mentioned have had their opportunity in the press, radio, television and books for decades. We pretty much know what ideas the Tims, for example, (Costello, Fischer and Flannery) will bring along. Where their ideas have merit they will likely have already permeated the wider society and been represented by proxy. Where are the contrarians? Where are the people with ideas that straddle conventional disciplines to deal with the complex problems emerging for our futures? This is not to appeal for cranks with blind faith in their own “silver bullet” solution, but the summit should be leavened by a sprinkling of them as well. Perhaps the summit can devise a process that will enable the truly unconventional, cross-disciplinary (and, therefore, “difficult”) ideas to be given effective public exposure regularly, as a permanent feature of our cultural life.

David Lodge writes: After all the sour conjecture over the lack of women in the ten leaders of the 2020 summit, I suggest Janet Albrechtensen. She’s female, will actually bring some point of difference to this Labor talkfest and has some genuine cultural experience. As Christian Kerr (RIP) would say, “stick that in your bong, hippies”.

Megan Kimber writes: …I would also add Professor Marian Sawer, head of the Democratic Audit of Australia at the Australian National University, to your list.

Sandy Forbes writes: Surprised that Dawn Casey, director of the WA Museum, former director of the National Museum and future director of the Powerhouse Museum is not among those listed in either the creative sphere or the Aboriginal sphere! Also wonder why the director of the National Library, Jan Fullerton, isn’t listed? Betty Churcher is fine, but she is definitely retired! And what about, under Creative, Robyn Nevin, whom Cate Blanchett replaced, and Robyn Archer, who has been recognised as an artistic festival director around the world? And under Governance, what about Emeritus Professor Meredith Edwards AM, National Institute for Governance at the University of Canberra, and a Senior Consultant with Courage Partners. Professor Edwards was the founding Director of the National Institute for Governance at the University of Canberra. And in the medical sphere, Professor Judith Whitworth AC, Director, John Curtin School of Medical Research. I am afraid the women you got together to list some other women (as usual) forgot some of the distinguished women in Canberra!

Anne Handley writes: Why try so hard to find experts in health who have never had to look after anyone other than themselves. Find a nurse in solo practice in the bush, or one on the the floor of RMH at 01.00hrs on Saturday. Get it in nutshell, no summit required.

JP writes: What about Professors Larissa Behrendt and Marcia Langton on indigenous issues, Meredith Edwards on Governance. A great deal more to contribute than some you have suggested.

Julia writes: If women had been included from the start, we wouldn’t have the whole of social policy: education, training, social security, housing, social services, migrant services, employment etc, all rolled into the Howardist “communities and families”.

Crusty Kelleher writes: Future directions for the Australian economy …. surprised you overlooked Joan Fitzpatrick, CEO of ANZIIF, VMIA Board, CREATE Board, + many awards …

Jules writes: And why isn’t Ann Sherry on anyone’s list ? She’s run a bank, been a senior executive within the Victorian public service and is now in charge of a shipping business.

And in our haste to bring you the longest list of ladies possible yesterday, we got a couple of entries wrong, apologies to Quentin Bryce (not Brite), Governor of Queensland; Ingrid Moses, Chancellor at the University of Canberra (not Vice Chancellor of ANU — that’d be Professor Ian Chubb); and Julie Hammer, who outranks the Brigadier tag that we gave her (see below):

Anne Summers writes: The governor of Queensland is Quentin Bryce AC – not Brite as your article has it.

Jane O’Dwyer, Director, Communications and External Liaison Office, Office of the Vice-Chancellor, The Australian National University: Do you know something I don’t? Last time I looked, Professor Ian Chubb was our VC. I think you’ll find that Ingrid Moses is actually Chancellor (not VC) at the University of Canberra. It’s the first entry that comes up when you google her! However, I’m glad you listed a couple of our outstanding women – there are plenty more here. 

Jeremy Davis: Sophie & Jane, you’ve undersold Julie Hammer. She was an Air Vice Marshall, a higher rank than Air Commodore, equal to a Major General and Rear Admiral. She’s a former Commandant at ADFA and her final defence job was acting CIO of DoD.

Peter Fray

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