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The Public Voice of Women

5 March, 2020

Cranlana Centre has some amazing women on its team, including our moderators Rebecca Cody, the first female Principal of the iconic Geelong Grammar School; Dr Jean Ker Walsh, recently Customer and Communities Advocate at Transurban; Genevieve Nhill AM, a Deputy President at VCAT and Head of VCAT’s Human Rights Division; Emma Greenwood, program management and delivery in the Australian Public Service ; Olivia Brown, a Partner of MorrisBrown Communications; and Alisa Camplin-Warner, former Olympian and a respected leader in Australian business, sports administration and corporate governance.

As we approach International Women’s Day it’s timely to consider women’s voices in the public arena. What, and how much, has changed since the writers of Greece and Rome put ink to parchment?

Jean Ker Walsh found that “having recently retired from my corporate role, I’ve had a couple of experiences causing me to reflect on how women are listened to when there is no title suggesting an authoritative voice.  I was prompted to revisit Mary Beard’s essay on The Public Voice of Women. Beard takes a long view of how women are heard (or not) by going back to the Greek and Roman classics to explore why women historically are heard as shrill, whining and whingeing in comparison with the deep authoritative resonance of the male voices. The issues on which women are accepted as public speakers are gendered.  It is OK as long as we stick to recognised women’s issues but the domains of men – politics, for instance – are still battle grounds where women’s voices are received as outside the norm. “…we need to go back to some first principles about the nature of spoken authority,” Beard says, “about what constitutes it, and how we have learned to hear authority where we do.” Her essay is a short, yet provocative, read. I recommend it: Women and power: A Manifesto, Mary Beard, Profile Books 2017.”

Read more about the essay here.

via The Conversation, 5 April 2018

Painting by John William Waterhouse (1912)/ Wikimedia Commons

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