Coming from Bachelor of Design to Commerce, Joanna hasn't followed the typical university pathway. From architecture and graphic design to majoring the accounting and economics, she has had her fair share of experiences in searching for her true calling. Beyond her duties as President of Women in Commerce and Politics, her hobbies include going to the gym and procrasti-baking.
With the meteoric rise of the #Metoo movement, major firms are adapting their company policies in favour of women. For instance, Goldman Sachs has pledged to only take companies public if they have a female on their board. Even a groundbreaking move like this has its drawbacks, the policy is merely restricted to companies in the United States and Europe. As someone who is interested in economics, do you think the corporate world is willing to work towards gender equality? Or are firms more comfortable using symbolic feminism as a PR strategy and ignore the pervasive bro culture that dominates workplaces?
Referring back to the policy of only making companies public if there’s a female on the BoD, that to me is not necessarily an act of working towards gender equality. Does this not restrict some high-potential companies that just happen to have all males on board? I personally view gender equality in a different light. While part of it might involve putting in extreme policies in hopes of giving female more opportunities within leadership roles, it doesn’t change the innate thoughts and pre-dispositions that people may have about having a female in that position of power. While I won’t necessarily agree that symbolic feminism is being used as a method to subdue the still male-dominated corporate environment, what I will say is that companies should look towards building a culture that truly empowers women to go for leadership roles, and educating men about adversities women face so that they can be part of the encouragement too. Gender equality cannot be developed through strict rules alone, there needs to be reform in how people perceive who should be in what roles.
This is your second year with WCP. As our new President, what are you hoping to achieve this year that will set the club apart from its previous successes?
I have high hopes this year for the club to grow. With the creative segments and all the foundations laid out by my predecessors, I plan to not only continue on the legacies they left behind but also create a legacy of my own. Along with my current executive team, we’ve managed to get our first FBE affiliation in the University along with coming up with events that will truly provide industry insights and professional value to our members. Rather than just building a close social community of aspiring female student leaders, I want them to know that there are so many other career pathways out there that really do merge the Commerce and Politics fields together. Rather than separating the two fields, I am looking to really find external speakers whose work will help unite people’s interest together to fit better with the club’s brand
Studying for the BCom degree and presiding over WCP must be a challenge. What is
something you do that helps cope with the stress?
Being completely honest, sometimes when things just get too much, the way I’d like to cope is to talk to people about my struggles and ask for advice. For me, nothing beats a good cry and chat, and I feel no shame in saying that whatsoever. I also find it nice to just take my mind off club-related work through making myself busy with other parts of my life, I find going to the gym especially relaxing.
Currently, is there any female figure that inspires you?
The one person who’s really inspired me for the longest time is my mum! From a young age, she’s always given me words of encouragement and advice, telling me to stand for myself in any hardships I face. It’s really helped me to develop my sense of resilience and grit if I do come across difficulties.
You’ve switched degrees and it worked out well for you. What advice would you give to
someone probably making a similar decision?
For all those who didn’t know, I started off as a Bachelor of Design student at the University of Melbourne. I was lucky that Commerce was something I was weighing up between Design when I graduated from high school, so the transition wasn’t too difficult. But an advice from me would be to realise and understand that not all degrees operate in the same way. Some expect you to put more time into your uni projects, some expect you to use your free time to gain experience outside of the classroom while balancing your studies. Be ready to adapt to new subjects and new ways of thinking, and also know that what you’ve learnt in your different degrees are transferable in some shape or form.
What was it about WCP that made you want to join?
What led me to join WCP was actually through the recommendation of a friend, who’s now working alongside me as the Vice-President of Commerce. At the time, it was the role of design officer that really made me want to join, as I thought it’d still allow me to get in touch with my creative side while doing a degree that was more content-heavy. I had an absolute blast with the marketing team, having re-designed the logo to what it is today, and working on the prospectus with the marketing director and marketing officer. Through my role, I got to know people within the team better, developing close friendships. In the end, it’s the people that make me think to myself how glad I am to be a part of this community.
If you have any questions for Joanna, please:
1. Leave a comment under our Woman of the Week FB post, or
2. Email us at exec@WCPunimelb.com