Monday night saw nearly 600 students from The Women’s College and the St Paul’s College undergraduate community enjoy the inaugural joint Commencement Dinner for the two colleges at the Westin Hotel in Martin Place, Sydney.
In welcoming his fellow students and the colleges’ staff, the Senior Student of St Paul’s, Mr Max Glanville, spoke of the dinner as marking “the close and equal partnership between our two colleges”, which has been further strengthening in recent times.
Keynote speaker Ms Julie McKay, Chief Diversity Officer at PwC Australia, spoke of the societal benefits of gender equality, the importance to future leaders of the ability to lead inclusive teams, how the desire to “fit in” can lead people to let go of their moral values and to accept unacceptable behaviour, and the challenge and opportunity for courageous emerging leaders to have a positive impact, not just in talking about gender equality, but in achieving real behavioural change in society.
In introducing her as guest speaker, the Warden, Dr Don Markwell, said he hoped that Ms McKay, whom he described as “one of Australia’s foremost leaders in thinking and acting about diversity and inclusion, and about gender equality”, would promote discussion of issues such as these of crucial importance for future leaders to consider. Dr Markwell also paid tribute to the Principal of The Women’s College, Dr Amanda Bell AM, for initiating the joint Commencement Dinner and helping to ensure its success. The Warden’s speech is here.
Citing the book Whistling Vivaldi: How Stereotypes Affect Us and What we Can Do by the American social psychologist Claude M. Steele, the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sydney, Dr Michael Spence AC, spoke of how the performance of individuals is affected by stereotypes – the stories we are told about what we can and can’t do. Dr Spence urged the students of the two colleges not to let the stories told by others limit what they can do, but to use their “remarkable talents” to achieve the greatest possible good, including to ensure that their colleges are “really remarkable residential environments in the 21st century”.
With enthusiastic appreciation by students of the dinner, and much discussion stimulated by the speeches, the Commencement Dinner is hoped to be an annual event to mark the beginning of the academic year for The Women’s College and the St Paul’s undergraduate community.
Photos of the event will be posted on the College Facebook page as soon as they are available.
8 March 2019
Pictured: Ms Julie McKay giving her keynote address at the dinner.