Women in the Industry - July 2018

HER PLACE WOMEN'S MUSEUM

A Place for Her

Luna Park CEO Helps Launch Women’s Museum in Australia

by Prasana William

1807_women_2Now in its 106th season, Luna Park is tightly knit into the cultural fabric of Melbourne, Australia. “The attractions industry and the important place of old amusement parks in the industry cannot be underestimated in terms of civic engagement,” says Director and CEO Mary Stuart. “Yes, we run a business, but the essence of what we do is form communities. Fostering and protecting this very special place is the essence of civic engagement.”

Stuart’s commitment to civic engagement also impacts an attraction of a very different kind: Her Place Women’s Museum. Stuart is chair and a founding member of the museum, which was created to honor the social, cultural, and entrepreneurial achievements of Australian women and their role in shaping the nation.

“The lives and experiences of women have traditionally been underrepresented in historical narratives, museum collections, and the public sphere. This is something we felt needed to be rectified, and there was no current vehicle to do so, so we started one,” she says, referring to the diverse group of women who established the museum, many of whom were already involved in civic, community, and group causes.

While in the process of securing a permanent facility, Her Place Women’s Museum curates temporary exhibits at existing public spaces and museums. The exhibits have focused on a wide breadth of subjects, including artists, activists, farmers, businesswomen, scientists, and community leaders. Video, artifacts, and images are used to tell the stories of these women. Public talks and discussions are often held in tandem with the exhibits, and Her Place also offers teaching resources.

The story continues online, where visitors can find biographies and video interviews with women who have made an impact. 

“Women’s stories that may have been lost now have a place to live. We are developing our online archiving so many future generations can see the women who have come before them,” says Stuart. “We believe that a women’s museum can help to change and shape attitudes and increase respect for women, and that this is important for the growth and development of a fair and just democratic society.”

Change can start with the workplace. Stuart shared her three insights for shaping a more inclusive organization: 

1. Be prepared to work hard and talk a lot: “You need to know what you want to do and be persistent. Change doesn’t happen overnight or just by willing it.”

2. Lead by example: “If you are a male manager/CEO and want to encourage more women into senior roles or ensure women get equal treatment, there are some simple rules to apply to yourself, [such as] never refer to a woman as ‘girl’ and never think it is normal that the majority of your senior team or the whole of your maintenance team are men. Sometimes it is important to recognize you need to change yourself.”

3. Recognize gender has nothing to do with talent: “The overriding directive should be to look for talent. No one gender has a monopoly on smarts. Women and men do have different perspectives and lived experiences. It is only good business sense to ensure that your company reflects society at all levels of management and all through the culture of the organization. Diversity will make your company better.”