...yes, I know I am being cynical. Maybe I am tired – it is the silly season after all! Honestly, I like many of these women, and the fabulous work that they do. I have even had the chance to enjoy lively conversations with one or two.
It is just that I cannot help believing that, when creating a list of the '20 Most Influential Female Voices of 2012' some of those 20 places could have been filled by any number of truly inspirational women in this country. However, the whole concept of 'most influential' is half the problem. Every woman is somebody's 'most influential'. And when it comes to 'influence', a person of influence is not necessarily positive. Vocal public bullies also possess influence. Take Alan Jones as an example.
I also have to wonder why Daily Life felt the need to create their own list of influential women, when another prestigious organisation had already announced their list of Australian women of influence in October 2012. This award conducted 'a nation-wide search for Australia's most inspiring women of influence.' These Awards were about identifying bold, energetic women, capturing the spirit of change and helping Australia shape a vibrant, inclusive future. Nominations for outstanding and influential women across the corporate, community, arts, philanthropy, public and not-for-profit sectors were encouraged.
Most of us would not recognise the majority of the names on The Financial Review/Westpac's list. Which raises the question - must a woman be a household name in order to be considered a woman of influence? And if this is perhaps a prerequisite, what other criteria might be involved when selecting the winners of the Daily Life awards? A quick glance at the articles surrounding the Daily Life list, and the following list of unofficial rules begins to emerge:
1. Make sure the winners are part of a select group of women that write for your column or belong to your organisation.
2. Ensure that you have one or two 'famous' or well-known faces on the list. (This makes the 'winners' look even more important than they really are, to the gullible public)
3. Proclaim that you had a list of 1000's of nominees, so that the winners look extra influential
4. It is recommended that a woman of diversity be selected (but just one is enough), so that our awards may appear 'inclusive'.
5. Winners need to have done at least one thing that has been published in the media (two would be great - but one is fine). Make it into a big deal. Make that one thing sound as though it has changed the way the world views women in general. No mention of changing views of women in Africa, Cambodia, or the Melbourne Sex-slave Industry etc. is necessary.
6. Be sure to feature the photos of the women who you want to 'win' a place in the top 20, in almost every 'nominate the top 20 women' article that appears before the final announcement.
7. Dismiss anything derogatory that any of your winners have said about other women as 'humour'.
8. Do not waste your time looking over nominations of women who have written serious work on actual issues surrounding women throughout the world.
9. Ignore nominations for women who spend their lives quietlyworking to improve the lives of abused prostitutes, abandoned women, victims of female genital mutilation, or any of the countless other suffering women and girls in Australia and worldwide.
10. Finally, when the awards announcement is published and the comments threaten to reflect any problems with rules 1 - 9, close all comments immediately and permanently.
Collett Smart is both a registered psychologist and a qualified teacher, as well a PhD candidate at Macquarie University. She regularly provides comment on national television and radio, regarding issues on mental health and child advocacy. Collett has worked with families in various countries around the world, for almost 20 years. Follow Collett on Twitter at @collettsmart.