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Break the bias this International Women's Day

Break the bias this International Women's Day

International Women’s Day: Break the bias

International Women’s Day is so important to us at Five Good Friends. We believe that everyone, man, woman, young or old, should be treated equally and with respect. One of our core values is ‘We liberate people and serve as a catalyst for change’. It’s a mantra we live by.

This year’s International Women’s Day theme is ‘Break the Bias’. We can all learn more by sharing our own stories, so we’ve spoken with our Commercial Director Sam Carson about what ‘Break the Bias’ means to her.

Sam started her career as a nurse but left for the corporate sector when her three children were in school. Here we ask her some questions about the gender biases she’s experienced in both the corporate and healthcare sectors and what Five Good Friends does differently.

Did you experience gender bias growing up?

When I think back on it, I experienced gender bias from the very beginning. In my family, I was the only girl with three brothers, and I had to show strength growing up as the only girl. It was a pretty traditional household and although I was encouraged to be myself, my parents probably skewed chores and expectations along gender lines.

I went to a Catholic girls’ school and although they advocated being a strong and independent woman, there were still a lot of barriers to break down in terms of further education.

What gender biases did you notice working in healthcare?

It was interesting working in such a female dominated industry as nursing. I noticed two stereotypes.

There were the ‘strong’ women who seemed to fight for their own piece of the world. They were intimidating and often you weren’t sure where you sat with them.

Then the other stereotype were the women with low self-esteem. They had incredible imposter syndrome and doubted everything they did.

Although I noticed these gendered roles, I really didn’t want to conform to them. I tried to see beyond them and forge my own path.

Of course, there were gender biases from doctors. These doctors were often male and traditionally had been put up on a pedestal. I even watched some highly intelligent female doctors get pushed around by the male fraternity. I think sometimes they felt threatened by these women, who were quite amazing at what they were doing.

It doesn’t matter whether we are a professor, a doctor, a cleaner or a nurse. Underneath it all, we’re all human beings. For me, it was always about bringing it back to just be a human. I believe in being respectful, but I believe everyone should be treated the same regardless of their gender or position.

After you moved into the corporate world, how was it different to healthcare?

Over the past decade or so, I’ve experienced great male leaders and great female leaders. And I’ve also experienced negatives on both sides unfortunately.

Sometimes you have to fight for your position, but I believe that’s true whether you’re a man or a woman. It’s a battle we all have, but perhaps as women we think about it more because of the gender biases we’ve already experienced in our lives?

I think as women we sometimes overcompensate. Because of the biases we’ve faced, we have thoughts about the type of woman we don’t want to be. We don’t want to come across as too fierce because that has negative connotations.

I believe a good leader is one who can be strong, listen to opinions, show vulnerability and has empathy. Leadership like that is incredibly powerful in business.

What is Five Good Friends doing to break down gender biases?

In my current role, I’m working on growing the number of Helpers we have. It can be difficult because traditionally, caregiving has fallen under a very female stereotype.

At Five Good Friends, we get more female than male applicants. We would love to have a more diverse mix of Helpers. We like to match our Helpers with our Members based on their interests and personality type, so there is certainly a need for both male and female Helpers.

We are trying to break down biases by having a contractor model where our Helpers run their own businesses. It gives everyone, men and women, the flexibility to run their own timetable. They can work one hour a week or 40 hours a week. They can work nine to five or overnight. They are in control, and we have the technology to help them manage their workload.

What’s your top tip for breaking the bias?

Women often take it all on without complaint. They care for their children, elderly parents, do their job and cook a meal every night. I think we put it on ourselves that we’re meant to do all this without asking for help.

That’s not true. My number one tip for breaking the bias is to lean on other people. Ask for help wherever you can – from your children, your partner, even your friends and family.

According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 72% of primary carers are female. At Five Good Friends, we have an entire team of people that will help you get help for your elderly parents or relatives, if that's what you need.

I talk to people all the time who admit they’ve got older parents who need help but they’re struggling to navigate the system. The system can be hard to understand, so my advice is to lean into the people who work in it every day and they can support you.

If you or a loved one need a hand, we are online now and ready to help. Or you can call our Care Advice team during business hours on 1300 787 581.

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