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Kicking goals and taking down glass ceilings

Tanya Hosch says it takes grunt and a little mongrel to disrupt the status quo, especially working as the EGM Inclusion and Social Policy at the AFL. With a little help from SEEK’s Client Engagement Specialist, Nicola Laver, we sat down with Tanya and asked for some pointers on how to work towards breaking down the glass ceiling and bringing our own grunt to our roles.

Current state of play

Nicola shared that women are now progressing into management roles at a faster rate than men, however it will take two decades for women to have equal representation in full-time management positions- hello snails pace!

She also revealed that when it comes to the top spot of CEO, we won’t see equal representation until the turn of the century and gender pay gaps won’t be closed for another 26 years.

Whilst these numbers feel like we’re spending more time on the bench than actually making our mark on the field, it’s important to remember the story of the tortoise and the hare. Sure, we’d love to be moving at the speed of the hare, but with women like Nicola, Tanya and even yourself, slowly chipping away at this glass ceiling, we know we can work together to make it a thing of the past sooner than predicted.

Glass ceilings

It’s refreshing not to have the conversation about whether it exists because the data makes it apparent that it does, Tanya told us. When questioned as to why the ceiling was still even bloody there, she made an interesting point about power.

‘People don’t give power up,’ she shared. Once you have that power, think carefully how you will share it.

You’re probably thinking ‘I worked so hard to get it, now you’re asking me to give it away?’ Tanya hears you, and even she struggles to give up her piece, too. Sharing power doesn’t mean giving up your seat at the table and can be as simple as backing up the voice of another woman.

Taking a note from Michelle Obama, Tanya shared the importance of amplifying women. Sitting in a meeting with a woman she may not necessarily get along with, Tanya looks to endorse them when they say something she agrees with. Sharing power comes in different shapes and forms, and despite it being hardwired into us, giving it away is the way we can get more of it collectively.

Do quotas work?

According to WGEA, women are underrepresented in key decision-making roles across almost all workforce industries in Australia.

Despite women making up just over half of the employees in the 2019-20 WGEA dataset (50.5%), women comprise only:

  • 5% of key management positions
  • 1% of directors
  • 3% of CEOs
  • 6% of board chairs.

So do we need quotas to balance this out?

Tanya thinks so. As a huge supporter of quotas, she believes the reason people resist them is simply because they work. Whether it be for gender or culture, quotas are a way to help get diverse opinions at the decision-making stage that will later trickle down into the organisation and benefit the many employees throughout the business.

Working as a woman and Indigenous woman in the AFL

Tanya is the second woman and first ever Indigenous person appointed to an executive role at the AFL and her role came with a lot of responsibility. Tanya revealed she’s felt frustrations and less than favourable treatment in all her roles, not just the male-dominated world of AFL.

But she relies on her peers, mentors and supporters to remind her she’s not a lone wolf. ‘It’s never going to be easy,’ she told us. ‘Whilst we have to do the heavy lifting, we don’t have to do it alone.’

Tanya also recommends chatting about concerns you may have as this helps improve your colleagues’ fluency within that area and creates a space to voice opinions in a productive manner.

 Practical skills needed in leadership positions

When asked what practical leadership skills that women who aspire to or are in executive roles should have, she shared the following three:

  • Time management is important to Tanya as she has a habit of underestimating how long a task may take. By being organised, and understanding how to use time effectively in other aspects of her role, enables her to have a buffer for longer projects.
  • Listening is another skill Tanya revealed as paramount to have in your arsenal. With many competing demands, the first thing to take a back seat is actually listening to what is being said. It’s easy to just switch off when you’re feeling overwhelmed, but that doesn’t help resolve anything.
  • The final skill Tanya shared was around learning how to identify what you need without the attached guilt. Asking for help shouldn’t just be accepted but encouraged, and often we associate asking for help as failure within our roles. At the end of the day, we are people and we need to connect, or sometimes disconnect, to recharge and there’s nothing wrong with that.


You’re more skilled than you know. Discover your hidden talents today and put your skills to work.


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