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Mount Magnet Redefines Modern Leadership as Women Make up the Majority

According to Tralee Cable, the chief executive of Mount Magnet Shire, the community is setting the standard for the proportion of women in senior roles. The town’s women claim that it dispels misconceptions about what it’s like to live in a remote area of Western Australia. Jennie McGowan, a community paramedic, hopes that more women will decide to work in the areas.

Men outnumber women in rural Australia, yet in one outback community in Western Australia, women are assuming leadership positions. Mount Magnet is a mining and pastoral industry hotspot located in the Murchison region of Western Australia, approximately 600 kilometers north of Perth. However, it has also developed into a gathering place for women in higher positions, such business management.

After graduating from high school, Tralee Cable assumed that she would work as a stay-at-home mother instead of an office worker. Nevertheless, Ms. Cable found herself in positions that piqued her interest in leadership when life took a different turn. In her second year as the first female CEO of the Shire of Mount Magnet, she reported that the little community had a robust support system.

ABS census data indicates that the population of Mount Magnet is about equally divided between men and women. However, Ms. Cable observed that women hold nearly all senior positions in the municipality, including most council positions. “It’s not unusual because we all have something to contribute,” she stated.

When the chance to oversee a station presented itself, Mount Magnet police officer in charge (OIC) Rachel Quinn and her spouse relocated to the community almost a year ago. According to Ms. Quinn, she has always been focused on her work and has never considered gender to be a hindrance to her success. “Yes [the police force] is a very male dominated industry and a lot of OICs are male,” she stated. “But that’s not really something that I looked at in my own aspirations — I never paid attention to if it was male or female dominated.” Despite her fondness of small communities, Ms. Quinn admitted that she was anxious to visit Mount Magnet.

Polly Dann, a Badimaya woman, added that she had focused her entire life on her work. After noticing that there hadn’t been an Aboriginal coordinator for a while, Ms. Dann took over as coordinator of the Bidi Bidi Center care programs. “The big difference is that this is my country so I’m the nanna, aunty, sister and I hold a level of respect,” she stated. Ms. Dann said that she was glad of the number of women in leadership positions in the community because it wasn’t something she saw frequently.

Although Stacy Burges is originally from Perth, she most recently took over the Mount Magnet post office after working in the shire office. Moving from a big metropolis, she admitted, felt intimidating at first, but her experience had been anything but isolating. “They’ve been really accepting, it’s a great small town to live in,” she stated. “Especially being a new owner and not having a background in business, it’s nice to know you’ve got the town behind you.”

With plans to remain in the outback, Jennie McGowan relocated to the small country town approximately two months ago in order to serve as the community paramedic. Ms. McGowan also thought that women brought a unique dynamism to rural villages and paramedicine. “I’d like to see more women come into these kinds of roles as I think they bring a really unique perspective,” she stated. It’s quite a kinship that exists, especially in a place like Magnet where the majority of my volunteers are women.