HCL's The Inspired Series celebrates women breaking ground and smashing stereotypes
HCL's The Inspired Series featured an engaging and insightful discussion with three impressive figures in Australian cricket, former Australian captain Belinda Clark AO, current Australian vice-captain Rachael Haynes and Sydney Sixers General Manager Jodie Hawkins.
The Inspired Series, a series of online webinars delivered by HCL and Cricket Australia and hosted by cricket commentator, former cricketer and Cricket Australia director Melanie Jones OAM, offers conversations around the elite insight into leadership, innovation and drive behind the best of Australian cricket.
The Breaking New Ground episode focuses on the journey of women's cricket from its pioneering days to becoming a professional career path for young female cricketers to aspire to.
Watch the The Inspired Series: Breaking New Ground.
History is inclusive of 'herstory'
Mel firstly established historical context for the conversation.
“For so long cricket has been thought of as a male-dominated sport, however, the women within the game, right from the beginning, have been making ground breaking and game changing contributions both on and off the field,” Melanie said.
“Christine Willes made a huge impact in the early 18th century when she decided that underarm bowling wasn't fit for cricket and we needed to go overarm. It was banned. All the men in the game said 'no you can't be doing that' but eventually they clicked onto the fact that it was a pretty important part of it and it was introduced.
"Australia's first ever female indigenous representative in the green and gold was a cricketer. It was Faith Thomas who debuted for Australia back in the 1958 series against England. In 1973, the first ever world cup was played in England through the tenacity and drive of Dame Rachel Heyhoe-Flint and that was two years before the men had their World Cup. England and New Zealand played the first ever T20 International back in 2004.
"Cricket has been a leader not just in increased pay, but also pay equality in the sport as well. The establishment, through Cricket Australia and the Australian Cricketers' Association, has a parental leave policy for female players which has been the envy of all sports.
“Then post-winning the T20 World Cup in March 2020, the Australian Women's Cricket team topped the rankings for the team in that Australians were most connected to.”
Forging their success through sport
IMAGE: Belinda Clark AO (left), Rachael Haynes (middle), Jodie Hawkins (right)
The women panellists spoke about their success, challenges, and experience in the sporting sector.
Belinda Clark AO - the Australian former international cricketer (1991-2005) and current Executive General Manager of Community Cricket at Cricket Australia - discussed the importance of leadership, and female presence within leadership, as a mechanism to grow a sport for women:
"We need to pay tribute to the leaders of organizations ... in the women's Cricket Australia camp. We had Quentin Bryce who was President ... and had a very clear philosophical position that this was a game that should be available to everyone - and the way to do that was to join with big brother organizations and start to access funds and resources.
“Research we’ve done recently from a community perspective is the importance of having role models throughout the club for young girls to take up the sport in the first instance. Where’s my female coach that I'm looking to, where's the female President of the club (and) where’s the female presence? Without that, it just keeps sending the reinforcement that this is a boy’s sport and that the girls are (only) being allowed to play.”
Three-time Women’s T20 World Cup winner, Women’s Ashes-winning captain and current vice-captain of the Australian women’s Cricket Team, Rachael Haynes spoke about the professionalism shift she has experienced in cricket:
"I've been fortunate to play through an era where professionalisation has been achieved certainly in Australia and players have an opportunity to really showcase their skills ... in terms of getting on free-to-air TV and those sorts of things. I think it has been such a wonderful time to play to experience so much change to experience a shift in mindset,” Rachael said.
“As well, I think a lot of times there seems to be a few barriers to try in convincing people that, 'Hey, you should be taking note of this and getting on board and supporting'. You know I think only reflecting back to earlier this year and seeing 86,000 people attending that World Cup final and just how much it really resonated with so many different people is a really special moment.
"I don't think by any stretch of the imagination we've seen what the women's game can fully bring and, over time, will continue to evolve. Young girls are watching and now actually playing the game and are coming through the pathway of cricket which is really exciting.”
A sports administrator for over a decade working in Rugby League and Cricket and now the current General Manager of Sydney Sixers (an Australian professional franchise men's and women's cricket club competing in Australia's domestic Twenty20 Big Bash League, Jodie Hawkins commented on the rise of women's sport:
"Some of the other major women's sports are really starting to take off because we've managed to really lead, I believe, in that space - but you know the beauty of women's sport is that everyone's in it together as well, so everyone's there to build each other up and to build the sports up because we know that's what is right. That's what we want to be doing,” Jodie said.
"There is really this genuine commitment to ensure that women's sport in this country continues to be elevated up and we want to get to that same sort of exposure level as the men's [sport].
Many further aspects were discussed regarding the rise of equality in women's sports.
Watch the full conversation here.
Celebrating the achievement of sportswomen
Further female athletes have also discussed their insights via HCL's The Inspired Series:
HCL is inspiring the ecosystem
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PARTNER CONTENT: Developed in collaboration to support IWD's Women and Sport Mission.