ABC’s chair and media icon Ita Buttrose gave a very clear call to action today during her keynote at the Women in Media conference held in Sydney.
Citing Women In Media research that shows that one third of women in the industry are considering leaving, Buttrose implored the women in the audience to stay the course.
In an inspirational rally she gave the audience an insight into her incredible career journey to date. “Throwing in the towel,” was never an option, she said, adding that “transformation doesn’t happen overnight”. Referencing this year’s historic Matilda’s performance, she spoke about her early experience of trying to get female sports coverage into the Sunday newspapers.
When she suggested to her boss ‘Cookie’ that at least one or so of the 20-30 pages dedicated to men’s sports could include women, he was “so horrified you would have thought I’d have suggested a page of porn,” she said.
She went on to say to him that he could either give her the page, or she could take it and (you guessed it) she got the page. Speaking around some of the intense oppression she faced working at a time where women weren’t allowed to wear trousers and there were next to no female role models to look up to, she urged the women in the audience to not forget the hard-won victories of the women of the past.
“Many women take for granted the changes brought about by women who did not give up.” Speaking about her own career she said, “I never tried to be one of the boys”, adding that Rupert Murdoch hired her as editor of the Daily Telegraph because he wanted her to feminise the brand.
Speaking on the ABC, Buttrose said she “makes no apologies about her continued passion about the independence of the ABC”. Buttrose added that she wanted more Australians to understand that that it’s independence is both precious and fragile.
When journalist and TV host Sandra Sully asked her what her plans are after she steps down from the ABC in March next year, Buttrose said she was in talks with two book publishers.
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