Monday, 19 February 2018

Shout Out to The Girls: A Celebration of Awesome Australian Women

Shout Out to The Girls: A Celebration of Awesome Australian Women (Penguin Random House). HB RRP $29.99   ISBN 9780143789420

Reviewed by Dianne Bates

If, as Australians, we want role models for our girls to become amazing women, and our boys to respect and honour women, it is incumbent upon us to share the kinds of stories found in this recently published book.

Fifteen women employed by the publisher have written biographies of 50 incredible Australian women, some (like Mary MacKillop, Nancy Wake and Ita Buttrose) who are nationally known, and others (Sia, Aheda Zanetti and Alice Anderson) who are lesser known.  An early, fully-qualified mechanic, Anderson (1897 – 1926), for example, was founder of the Women’s Automobile Club, and opened her own business, Kew Garage, where she employed an all-female staff of mechanics and apprentices.

The women featured in this book are by no means all Anglo (such as motivationalist Turia Pitt, comedian and disability activist Stella Young, artist Nora Heyson); there are, for example, a number of aboriginal women, such as film-maker Rachel Perkins, Sudanese-born mechanical engineer, author and activist Yassmin Abdel-Magied, third generation Chinese Kylie Kwong and author Melina Marchetta of Italian heritage, and many others. Tribute is even paid to transgender Jordan Raskopoulos, an internationally acclaimed comedian.

The chosen women’s sphere of influence is wide-ranging, embracing for instance, fields such as human rights, politics, car racing, social work, film and theatre production and much more. Quite a few women are advocates (including for women’s health, aboriginal rights, brain cancer, the environment, the arts).

Thanks to this book, for the first time this aged feminist reviewer came upon the stories of Felicity Wishart, Ella Havelka, Dharmic Mistry and Daisy Pearce. One of the featured women has won four Academy Awards (Catherine Martin), has led Australia (Julia Gillard), been honoured as Australian of the Year (burns surgeon Fiona Wood), represented Australia internationally (Paralympian skier Jess Gallaher). There’s even young Jade Hemeister (2001 --) who’s explored the Artic!

Each of the one-page biographies is colourfully illustrated by 34 talented women artists, giving art students a great reference for a variety of portraiture.

The women in Shout Out for the Girls must surely show both sexes that women can and do succeed in whatever industry they decide to enter. Highly recommended.