Welcome to Eureka Street

back to site

Dangerous impulses around women in power


The woman featured in this interview on Eureka Street TV  hardly needs an introduction. Geraldine Doogue is one of Australia’s most respected and well known journalists. Over a career spanning four decades she’s had a strong presence in all traditional media, in print, radio and TV, with leading roles in both public and commercial media outlets.

She has just published a book entitled The Climb: Conversations with Australian Women in Power and this interview focuses on her exploration in the book of contemporary women’s leadership in this country.

At the outset I should acknowledge a personal connection with Geraldine. She and I have worked closely on a number of big projects on and off since 1986, and over that period she has become a highly valued friend, collaborator and mentor. 

One of those projects which I’d rank as a highlight of my career was the TV documentary, Tomorrow’s Islamwhich aired on ABC TV’s Compass strand in 2003. It presented the views of key progressive Muslim thinkers and leaders around the world about the problems besetting that great world faith.

Geraldine and I then collaborated on a book based on the extensive research and interviews done for the documentary and this was published by ABC Books in 2005. This was the first experience for both of us in the daunting but rewarding process of long-form writing and publishing.

Geraldine was born and grew up in Perth, Western Australia. After a devout Catholic upbringing, convent education, and gaining an Arts degree her first plan was to train as a teacher.

But in the early 1970s, on an impulse she applied for a cadetship in journalism with the West Australian newspaper. This was the start of a distinguished career as a journalist and broadcaster that included stints at the Australian newspaper, Radio 2UE, Channel 10 and ABC TV and Radio. She currently hosts Radio National’s Saturday Extra and ABC TV’s Compass.

She has won two Penguin Awards for excellence in broadcasting from the Television Society of Australia and a United Nations Media Peace Prize. In 2000 she was awarded a Churchill Fellowship to study social and cultural reporting overseas. In 2003 she was made an Office of the Order of Australia for service to the community and media.

In the first part of this interview she reflects on the leadership of Julia Gillard and how she was treated as our first female prime minister, she gives an overview of her book, and explains the role of the nuns who taught her in forming her views on leadership.

In the second part she explains why she included a chapter featuring the views of prominent men on women’s leadership, she reflects on the importance of ambition and achieving work/life balance, and she concludes by giving her analysis of what is, and what should be the role of women in leadership in the Catholic Church.

This interview is in two parts - Part 1 (11 mins) above, and Part 2 (7 mins) below:


Peter KirkwoodPeter Kirkwood is a freelance writer and video consultant with a master's degree from the Sydney College of Divinity.

Topic tags: Peter Kirkwood, Geraldine Doogue, Julia Gillard, Women in Power, leadership, The Climb



submit a comment

Existing comments

I will be showing this video to my Year 11 students. We have been discussing women in the Church and the idea of service and duty. My seventeen year olds are the future and need encouragement to know that they have much to contribute. Like Geraldine, the nuns provided me with a template of grace, accomplishment and a sense that I could take my place in the world and be valued for my contribution in whatever sphere of endeavour. More than ever we need our young people to know that they have a place in the Church and that they can help to shape it.

Ann Rennie | 03 September 2014  

This is a wonderful interview with two experts in their craft exploring rich territory for thought and reflection. Thank you Peter for producing this clip and thank you Geraldine for your candour in responding to Peter’s questions. I look forward to reading your book.

John Francis Collins | 03 September 2014  

A wonderfully refreshing interview which displayed for me the true essence of genuine feminism which retained femininity rather than promoted blokey radical feminism ( of the Gillard type, perhaps?). Also a wonderful appreciation of the enormous contribution of yesteryear's nuns to the education of girls and young women which highlights the great tragedy of the abandonment of childhood education by the modern variety of nuns. Delighted to hear that Australian women are very different from American women. Thank God!

john frawley | 03 September 2014  

Very inspiring videos of Geraldine and I certainly intend to get a copy of the book. Her points are well made and ring true for me as a Sister of Mercy

anne foale | 04 September 2014  

Inspirational Geraldine and Peter. Thank you and I will certainly be buying your book; from one of the followers.

Bernadette | 08 September 2014