Inspiring Tomorrow’s Future Women Leaders

When it comes to planning your future, the challenge to find the right career can be overwhelming. With so many choices, and competitive male-dominated industries, it can be challenging to get a foot up the career ladder. Empowering young women to be leaders of tomorrow is a huge responsibility.

In Melbourne’s east, independent girl’s college, St Catherine’s School, is tackling this head-on. Nurturing students’ interests across a diverse range of subjects and providing opportunities to engage with female role models from industry, the school is working to break down gender stereotypes in the workplace.

It is this encouraging approach that has empowered 2019 School Co-Captain Georgina Cottrill to pursue tertiary studies in global politics. Fundamental to the decision was her VCE global politics and legal studies classes receiving the opportunity to meet with former federal deputy leader, Julie Bishop.

“I am extremely fortunate for my childhood and education as I’ve never felt restricted in what path I should be taking,” says Cottrill. “However, being able to see other women accomplishing their dreams has made this feel all the more achievable.”

Last year, the VCE global politics and legal studies classes were invited to partake in a “boardroom style” meeting with Bishop, using the time to ask prepared questions focused on their studies to learn from her extensive experiences as minister for foreign affairs and overall time in parliament.

“The Honourable Julie Bishop left [many of us] in awe,” says Cottrill. “We definitely did not approach [her] lightly when it came to asking questions.
There was a significant variation from the very political and tough questions… to more personal.”

However, Cottrill says part of what was so important about this question and answer session was the respect the students received from the former politician.

“She notably gave each of us a handshake upon first meeting, and respect within the discussions. No matter the topic, Ms Bishop astounded us with her poise and in-depth answers.”

It’s an approach to empowerment St Catherine’s has taken throughout its and curriculum, not just through selection of guest speakers, but by instilling in students core school values of mindful thinking, optimism, gratitude and leadership — something Cottrill has in turn tried to embody through her leadership position at school.

“Especially at this younger age, I believe the notion of “leading by example” is the most important role a leader can take.
“I have seen the likes of the Honourable Julie Bishop and the Honourable Julia Gillard leading Australia with confidence, intelligence and grace. Having public figures and strong leaders such as these women has undoubtedly ignited my, and many other girls’, passion and desire to enter leadership roles.”

In 2020 Georgina Cottrill began studying at the Australian National University in Canberra, undertaking a double degree of Law and PPE (Politics, philosophy and economics). She is planning to focus on the field of public policy, and hopes to be a part of sustainable changes in any of the range of categories policy encompasses, on a national or international scale.

The Age

Saturday 7 March 2020

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