The importance of surrounding yourself with strong women

March 9, 2022 in Awareness Events

Written by Holly Byron, CEO and Principal Psychologist of Northside Psychology

Sadly, we live in a world where significant gender bias still exists. Tuesday 8th March is International Women’s Day. The theme for this year is #BreakTheBias.

I passionately believe we need to work together to raise awareness, stamp it out and create a world free of bias, stereotypes and discrimination. 

I’m not as physically strong or as big as a man… I have trouble hanging curtains by myself, but I have never felt I can’t do anything because I’m a woman.

This is a rare feeling, one that is not mutually shared by women. I consider myself very fortunate in this regard, and I recognise that I hold some privilege, being a cis, white, and able woman. My experience with gender bias is going to be vastly different from women all over the world. I recognise this, and want to use my privilege to work towards a better future for women everywhere. I share my experience in the hopes that it may help other women change their trajectory. 

Many of my attitudes around what I can achieve were formed early… My mother initially trained as a nurse in an era when educated women either became teachers or nurses. In 1965 she fought for the right to be the first woman at her hospital granted capacity to continue working as a nurse after she was married, and to be able to live out of the nurses’ residence. She was not, and to this day is not afraid to stay the course and take on battles as needed. She became a successful business-woman and always strove to challenge and grow herself, completing numerous degrees as a mature aged student. She has always been strong, independent and focused. 

Whilst gender bias is ingrained in our society and its structures, I believe there are things we can control at an individual level to limit the detrimental impact of gender bias on our own progress. I believe proximity plays a role in our experience with gender bias. The people we surround ourselves with have a huge impact on our lives and can lift us up, give us strength and bring joy, or drag us down. I am incredibly fortunate to have many women around me who have added to my strength. Nowadays, I purposefully choose to be surrounded by wise, strong, smart, passionate, fun, emotionally mature, caring, balanced and supportive female friends. 

I am also incredibly fortunate and endlessly delighted to work with so many extraordinarily talented and capable women who join me at the Leadership level in Northside Psychology. This includes my CFO (who is a national business owner) and her team of financial consultants, my two Business Coaches, my Clinical Team Leader, my Business Manager, and my Lead Clinical Supervisor to name a few… These are all strong, smart, successful and high functioning women who work extremely well together and are paving the way for bigger and better things. We share an indelible connection, drive, passion and a belief in getting things done and looking after others on the way… I have NEVER looked at any of them and thought they can’t do, or be, or achieve, because they are women.  

I look at my sister and sister-in-law who are doing amazing things, making a real impact in the world, and had a stellar careers; my sister being granted many postings in Australian Embassies, and my sister-in-law as a Psychologist and a very successful CEO of a huge welfare organisation with some 700 staff. We are there for each other, both personally and professionally, and they have lifted me up many times. Both are truly inspirational and REALLY strong women who have the same mindset as me; they don’t think there is anything much that they can’t do or tackle because they are women.

I’m now seeing these beliefs develop in my two daughters and my two nieces, all of whom are smashing goals and developing into the next generation of strong, capable, independent women. 

So, I acknowledge I have been fortunate to have had an upbringing where I have been well educated, and taught that anything is possible. I recognise that I am privileged to not be limited by the gender bias that is, without a doubt, still present in society. My beliefs are held strong by the women around me; I surround myself with women who lift each other up, believe we can achieve whatever we set our minds to and know we can always outsource the curtains…

To find out more about International Women’s Day, and how to get involved, visit the IWD website.