Women told to walk away from stalled careers

BY CAROL NADER
Last updated 10:36 07/10/2010

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Elizabeth Alexander has prudent advice for women who feel their careers have stalled: explore opportunities and walk away if you don't get them.

It is intelligent advice from someone in a position to know. The chairman of the biopharmaceutical company CSL is something of an anomaly: she is just one of six women chairing a top 200 company on the Australian Stock Exchange.

"I believe very much that people determine their own destiny, but if circumstances are not encouraging, then moving on is the answer," she says.

A former partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers who began her career in finance, Miss Alexander has been chairman of CSL since 2006 and on the board for almost 20 years. She is also the only woman on the board.

Miss Alexander says a key path to career progression is to have women in senior executive positions, citing CSL as an example where there are four women who are executive vice-presidents.

"One of the issues in getting people on to boards is effectively the executive ranks, and having more people come through so they have the experience to actually come on to boards," she says.

In this, progress has been made, new figures suggest. The Australian Institute of Company Directors says women now represent 10.1 per cent of directors on the boards of the top 200 companies on the ASX. Two years ago, a census commissioned by the Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Agency showed that figure was 8.3 per cent.

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- BusinessDay.com.au

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