Today the Canberra Times reported that Clare Carnell was appointed to the bar. At 26 she’s the youngest woman to do so.
She said she didn’t shatter the glass ceiling, she was given a hand through it. Her mother, Kate Carnell, a former ACT Chief Minister, is very well connected and I’m sure those connections helped. This does not at all diminish Clare’s credibility or capability. She would not have been appointed if she was not competent. Competence and hard work is seldom enough to get to the top, or even to the bottom, of male dominated industries.
It is not a failing for women to seek helping hands – it’s essential that we do. Many highly capable women have made it through barriers because they’ve had helpful, well connected parents, friends or others who have helped them. There are several Federal Government Secretaries (and at least two of them are women) who followed their fathers to the top.
Too often women won’t use their networks, or feel diminished if they admit it. There are still too many women in senior positions who defend ‘merit’ based appointments. Merit is judged subjectively, women must be more meritorious than their male colleagues, and it’s weighted by prior success or references from well connected people.
If appointments were made against objective criteria, we would have an equal representation of both genders – unless of course those who defend merit-based appointments are suggesting that women are not as capable as men?