Corporate Woman Catherine Fox answers Ten Questions
I met Catherine Fox in my late 20s while working at the Australian Financial Review. Though not a corporate job per se, working at the AFR was my first foray into corporate culture, suits and high heels, cubicles and water cooler talk, and most importantly, women in the workplace. I distinctly remember the shock and disappointment when I learned about some of the discrepancies between women and men at work. Whether it was about the pay gap or the respect gap, or just blatant sexism in communications, working alongside Catherine taught me some hard lessons, but lessons I am grateful for learning.
Catherine is one of Australia’s leading commentators and writers on women and the workforce. A journalist, author and public speaker, her expertise also includes leadership, management and career trends and workplace change. After working in the financial services sector in Sydney and London, Catherine joined the Australian Financial Review where she edited several sections of the publication, and wrote the Corporate Woman column. She was deputy editor of Boss magazine for several years before leaving the AFR in 2012.
Catherine has written three books and her latest, “Seven Myths about Women and Work” (New South) was released in August 2012 and shortlisted for the Ashurst Business Literature Prize. Catherine is co-chair of the Westpac/Financial Review 100 Women of Influence Awards and is on several advisory boards, including the Defence Force Gender Equality Advisory Board. In 2013 she was appointed a Fellow of the Centre for Ethical Leadership at Melbourne Business School. She has a BA (Communications) UTS and an MA (Hons) UNSW.
WonderWomen is very pleased to have Catherine answer this month’s Ten Questions.
What is the essence of being a woman?
I don’t think about my gender all the time – I think of myself as human first and female second. That’s why blatant sexism is so confronting even now. To realize I am being assessed because of a factor I have no control over still shocks me.
What do you feel unites women?
The negotiation of this discrimination (see above). It’s tricky to call it and not allow it to define your life but we must keep up the fight because we have strength in numbers. All the great feminist victories came from women mobilising around reform and that’s what we need to continue to do.
How do you stay strong, assertive and feminine?
Being strong and assertive is completely compatible with being a woman – any other interpretation needs to be challenged because it’s based on stereotypes.
What and who inspires you?
All the women leaders I meet in business, politics and the community. The writers, artists and musicians too.
How do you live your life so it has meaning?
I have been lucky and almost everything I do these days supports my core belief in better gender equity.
What contribution would you like to make to benefit humankind?
How do you stay calm under pressure?
I don’t but then again who really does? Getting older hasn’t helped but I am less concerned about criticism and can spot a well-worn self-serving sexist line a mile away.
How do you move from dream into action into completion?
There’s no formula but a sense of where you have most impact is worthwhile. I don’t do much long term planning but I can spot an opportunity quickly these days.
Three words to describe how you maintain a life balance.
No-one has balance.
If you could ask any woman one question, what would you ask?
How did you successfully negotiate sexism?