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I am 7th Generation in the Australian Cattle Industry. I grew up on a cattle station in North Queensland. My husband and I run a Livestock Agency (hence the reference to mobile phones)as well as a small hobby farm with our two young children.

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Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Operation Grass Ceiling

I've been trying to get these thoughts down on paper (or screen) for weeks, I’ve had several attempts at writing them but they always sound jumbled and incoherent.  Who knows maybe all my stuff sounds like that??  And I’d just like to mention that I’m not a feminist, I’m sure these things happen to men too, but for now I’m just focusing on the women okay?

But as I scroll through my Facebook newsfeed I see yet another inspiring, amazing woman who is such a valuable member of our rural community has fallen in a heap.  I have known and thought so highly of this woman for years and now she is a shell of her former self.  But I have never admired her more, have never been more awed by her courage.  The sad thing is she’s not the only amazing, inspiring woman to stumble like this, so many strong women have done so lately whether they are a part of the farming community or work tirelessly in one of our small towns.

Catherine Marriott from Influential Women posted this picture the other day: (you can read other people’s thoughts here:  https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=658730990870807&set=pb.562730337137540.-2207520000.1390598590.&type=3&theater

Picture Courtesy of Catherine Marriott

To me they are connected.   Good leaders care about those around them but caring leaves you open and vulnerable.  We need to look after our leaders when they are vulnerable otherwise they will become hardened and lose the ability to care.

A friend, Loukas, also commented:  “Leadership and vulnerability are connected. Leadership means being at the forefront and leading by example, vulnerability because as a leader, you're the first one in the crosshairs or first into the unmarked minefield.”

And I think that one sums it up to what’s been happening to some of our leading women, they’ve been a target either from enemy fire of anti farming groups.  Or even worse, the target of “friendly” fire, others in the farming community who seem hell bent on harassing someone who doesn’t agree with them or perhaps are trying their hardest to make a difference.  Can’t have any tall poppies in Australia can we?    

2013 was a really hard year for some, the loss of loved ones, Mother Nature throwing her weight around, conditions for farmers worsening and there seemed to be so much tension in the air. I learnt a lot last year, especially about myself and a lot of it wasn’t pretty.  But that’s okay, because that means I can work on changing how I react to certain situations.   The big thing I learnt is that we need to look after each other rather than picking people off like a sniper one by one.  We may not always agree or like one another, but agriculture in Australia is at a crisis point and we’re all in this together.  If we can’t support each other, then how the hell can we expect anyone else to?

We’ve all heard of the glass ceiling right?  The place where some people aspire to break through and make it to other side where the “successful” (what defines success anyway?).  Queensland Rural, Regional andRemote Women’s Network (QRRRWN) President,  Georgie Somerset, talks about the “Grass Ceiling”, the farming version of the glass ceiling, particularly for women in this Landline Segment.
Some women make it through that grass ceiling, the strongest ones turn around and help the next person through, but some cover their hole over lest anyone try and join them.
Some women try and fail, the best ones give a leg up to someone else trying.  Others try to keep dragging those trying down.
Some are vying with each other to get there and shoulder each other out of the way.  We need to stop, talk and nut things out together.
There are some women who have no aspirations to get through that Grass Ceiling and that is fine.  These women are usually the best support a girl could have.  They are the ones who give you a boost, the ones who will pick you up and dust you off when you’ve fallen.  And for them we should be truly grateful.

So for 2014 I pledge to be less bitchy and more supportive.  I may falter occasionally, I am only human.  I love agriculture, I love rural Australia.  My beloved northern beef Industry is in crisis.  We won’t fix it overnight, we won’t fix it shooting each other down.  We won’t fix it by doing one thing, we need so many different people doing different things.
So when I start having non supportive thoughts I’m going to put my big girl panties on and utter to myself
“Operation Grass Ceiling”.
Who’s with me?

I wrote this a few days and left it sitting there to see if I still wanted to post it.
There are some people who are not so nice to me and I used to let them drag me down and make me sad.  These days, instead of letting them do that, I imagine trampolining off their heads trying to reach those heights while muttering #OperationGrassCeiling.  And it works!  And yes I am loopy but am not afraid to admit that!


  1. Great post, and yes! I'm with you!

  2. Agree whole heartedly, great post I wrote one on "what others think of me is none of my business and I live by that rule. Don't tell me cos I didn't ask

  3. So much more can be achieved by working together and supporting one another, rather than fragmenting and trying out do each other and pull others down. Rural Australia needs more women leaders and we should all be supporting those who are able to reach the top. Thanks for the post!!!

  4. What a wonderfully well written blog Kylie, very thought - provoking.. Keep up the good work..

  5. Love it Kylie. Thanks for your honesty. Yep, I'm with you.