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Heidelberg’s Women In Print – Alison Stieven-Taylor commentary

Tuesday, 03 April 2012
By Print21

In March Heidelberg’s Women In Print concluded its sixth year with nearly 500 women attending events in five cities. Melbourne kicked off the 2012 round on Thursday 22nd March and yours truly went along to report on proceedings.

Inside the cavernous reception area, the 150 plus crowd was in full flight, and full voice, a thick mix of voice pitches and perfumes permeated the air. Many women were clad in variations on the theme of the little black dress. Very Melbourne. A quick glance around the room confirmed the worth of these evenings as networking events. New connections were being made and cards exchanged as rapidly as the champagne and canapés were consumed.

The speaker this year was Judith Fordham, a brash barrister from Western Australia. Her story is one of downtrodden girl turned good. The recount of her life – from the abuse she suffered as a child and wife, to raising four children under five on her own, moving from Hobart to Perth, and getting a couple of degrees under her arm along the way – was entertaining and funny.

Pictured: L-R: Belinda Baker, State Patron Women in Print Victoria, Judith Fordham (speaker), Diandra Gavillucci Heidelberg and Deb Holst, Heidelberg’s Women in Print Patron.

One thing she said, that I didn’t know, was LinkedIn was the new corporate dating site. When she dropped that pearl, the shudder through the auditorium-sized dining room was audible.

On attaining her qualifications in science and law Judith said “somehow” she got a degree, “along the way”. But at question time no one asked her how she juggled a young family and studying, women know the answer. Rather questions from the diverse crowd were about “empowerment,” which came from a woman who had also been in an abusive relationship – to “what are her favourite shoes?” She is a confirmed shoe-a-holic. “Did she have a blue light torch like they do in CSI, to detect blood spatters?” Judith has worked in forensic science. I would have liked to hear more meaty details, like how she deals with sexism in law circles, a claim no one can dispute. Yet overall guests found the speaker worthwhile. Two said, “ Judith made us think about where we were at in our lives and reassess" and "Judith inspired me to do things and consider what is possible".

Heidelberg’s Women in Print is a supreme networking event for women. Major sponsors Geon, BlueStar and newcomer PMP used the occasion to fill their tables of ten with customers as well as employees. Heidelberg’s Women in Print also delivers a valuable selling opportunity for the printing industry as a whole and these events are good for print’s image.

Increasingly women tell of complaints from male colleagues about being excluded. The men say there should be a male equivalent. This isn’t a club. Heidelberg’s Women in Print provides a professional platform for women to connect and hopefully learn something new and useful.

I agree that in amongst Judith’s talk of iPods not being as good as written notes, her weight loss, shoe purchases and new love, an ex-cop whom she once accused of planting drugs on a defendant – she did have some sage advice.

“When the door opens, just walk through it…take a punt. If it feels right, it probably is right.”

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