In her talk at Colorado State University, Julia Gillard, the former prime minister of Australia, mentioned “tracky dacks” and “wozzies,” acknowledging that her American audience probably would not know what she was talking about.
But her April 8 lecture, as part of the Global Engagement Lecture Series, also took a serious tone exploring important subjects such as gender inequality, renewing democracy and encouraging cooperation in times of extreme bipartisanship.
During her talk at the Lory Student Center Grand Ballroom, Gillard discussed the personal challenges becoming the first female prime minister of Australia and the hurdles women have to overcome in leadership positions.
Gillard, who also was the former leader of the Australian Labor Party, said she saw that a woman’s worth as a leader was often linked to her likability when this is not always the case for men. “Leadership as a woman felt lonely at times,” she said.
The former prime minister, who served from 2010-2013, also was open about her experience in dealing with media members more concerned about the appearance of women rather than their political views, something her male counterparts do not often experience.
As for how to close the gender gap between women and men, Gillard said there are no easy answers. However, she urged the audience to be an agent of change and open to unpacking the complexities that come with racial and gender issues in society.
Gillard also touched on strengthening democracies, noting that from an outsider perspective, one would think democracies are cherished and admired by societies all over the world, but this is not always the case. Globalization, climate change and frantic-paced media systems among other factors have made the future of democracies more questionable than ever, she said.
“Democracies are noisy, quarrelsome and slow,” she said. “But it’s the only system that assures everyone has a voice.”
When it came to striving for widespread cooperation, Gillard gave the audience three tips for tackling a rapidly evolving world.
She illustrated the importance of being clear about one’s purpose in their relationship with others; think intellectually and filter out the vile; and the significance for people to identify the urgent versus the important.
“It takes discipline to carve out unplug time for the moments of deeper reflection,” she said.
Gallard’s lecture was sponsored by the Office of International Programs with additional support provided by First National Bank, Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs, University Housing, Women and Philanthropy, Department of Political Science, Office of the Vice President for University Operations, Office of Vice President for Diversity, Colorado School of Public Health at CSU, Undergraduate International Studies and Foreign Language Grant, Student Leadership, Involvement and Community Engagement (SLiCE), School of Global Environmental Sustainability, ASCSU, KUNC, Women in Natural Sciences.