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Purposefully breaking the glass ceiling

By Stephen Hagan - posted Thursday, 6 November 2008

Early this year I sought out a multi-purpose gym set to place in my garage as part of my fitness program. I don’t know what possessed me but I thought the gym apparatus that I viewed in the sports store would be delivered to my home fully assembled. But to my surprise the courier delivered it a couple of hours later neatly and unrecognisably packaged in a condensed form. I was aghast at the task at hand as I am totally inept at anything associated with mechanical and technical processes involving nuts, bolts or chords.

The upside of this experience was that my 12-year-old daughter Jayde, who was the only one home with me at the time, volunteered to assemble the gym for me. Two hours later the gym materialised before my eyes, and such was my elation at the unforeseen level of skill demonstrated by my young daughter in putting it together, that I rang my wife Rhonda immediately to share the news.


After working her way through pages of complex diagrams and countless nuts and bolts Jayde managed, with me holding onto heavy objects like a compliant minion, something that I thought would take a skilled adult hours to assemble.

I heaped praise on Jayde and asked her some time later if she ever thought of pursuing a career as an engineer. Previously her aspirations changed with every incremental advance in school years, from wanting to be a school teacher, to a nurse, and more recently the high goal of wanting to be a professional medical practitioner. Not once though, did she allude to a possible occupation as an engineer.

“Not sure Dad - it’s not something that I’ve thought about” she said.


I wished in that instant that I could’ve named an Indigenous woman working in that field to hold up as a role model, but my mind went blank.

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About the Author

Stephen Hagan is Editor of the National Indigenous Times, award winning author, film maker and 2006 NAIDOC Person of the Year.

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