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The Very Australian Women’s Leadership heist

What was that guy’s name? The great train robber who hid somewhere in South America for years on end and had the whole world on alert for sightings of him? Ah yes, Ronald Biggs. Well I have found his contemporary counterpart. Jonathan Littlest*. The difference is that Jonathan Littlest doesn’t think he has anything to hide. Actually quite the opposite. Jonathan Littlest has stuff to tell us. More importantly Jonathan Littlest has stuff to tell us women.

We read the smoozy flyer, the testimonials, and the quotes from inspirational women. Yes we wanted to be part of that; we want some respite from the often thankless, challenging and relentless work of managing our human service agencies. We want it so bad that we will pay $2000 from our tiny training budgets to get it. Hooray, two days professional development with other women. What could go wrong?

Well just about everything.

Firstly we walked up to the wrong registration booth. I don’t know about you but I don’t think I look like a complete social misfit. I wear clothes. I brush my hair. Mostly. Anyway the woman at the desk lifted her somnolent eyes heavenward and let out an audible sigh and said ‘this is for tax accountants, are you in the right place?’ Well! Doesn’t matter that I wasn’t in the right place. How rude. I could have worked for the Australian Tax Office for all she knew.

I was a bit surprised when I did find the right place. For the whopping big registration fee I was expecting the Palace of Versailles. But no.  A grey windowless room with no heat and jugs of ice water. Maybe it’s thematic. Making us feel right at home. In the gulag.

To complete the scene, every single woman had come dressed in black. Did I miss the bit on the invite that said prison garb required? These women already know stuff mate, they know not to stand out in a workplace in case some tosser like you notices them and decides to give them a few tips about how to get ahead in a man’s world. Thanks for the heads up though. We all know which organisation has a neon sign flashing above it that reads ‘only fuckwits need apply’.

So Jonathan treated a room full of leaders to his homily on good parenting. Well his good parenting. On what he wanted written on his tombstone and on cutting edge research from 2007. And if we weren’t that au fait with how to do research we could ‘Google’ it. Goodie. His tip for championing women in the workplace? Get men talking to men. Better still!

The Jonathons of the world come from a privileged place. Self assured enough to walk into a room of women, insult them and expect a round of applause. And yes Jonathan, the personal is political. So that special place in hell that Madeline Albright said was reserved for women who didn’t help other women? There is room for one man. One Little one.

*Name changed to protect the women who work with him.

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