UWS celebrates International Women’s Day
Never compromise your credibility or your integrity, but most importantly, never compromise your femininity.
This is the advice that Detective Superintendent Deborah Wallace, Commander of the Middle Eastern Organised Crime Squad, gives to women who are trying to forge their careers in male-dominated industries.
Speaking at the recent Women of the West awards ceremony at the UWS Parramatta campus, Deborah shared her own experiences of rising through the ranks of the NSW Police Force.
On her first day as a Constable at the Blacktown Local Area Command, a female Station Sergeant imparted the same advice – about the importance of recognising that she was not a policeman, but a policewoman.
"It wasn't always an easy road for women in the police force," Deborah said.
"I get to stand here today, as Detective Superintendent, because of those women who came before me, who were not even able to carry a gun until the late seventies.
"When I joined in 1983, I was considered a police officer in my own right, thanks to those pioneering women."
Deborah was born and raised in Greater Western Sydney, and said speaking at the UWS Women of the West Awards – an event that aims to celebrate the achievements of women from the western suburbs – was a welcomed opportunity.
"This is so close to the heart is it for me – I'm a woman, but I'm also a westie. I was born and bred in Westmead, went to Westmead Public School, and I live about three hundred metres up the road," she said.
Sitting within the audience were 13 women, all nominated for their substantial contributions to their fields as well as to the communities of Greater Western Sydney, all wearing green, white and violet flowers as a tribute to International Women's Day.
Deborah congratulated the nominees for their many achievements, and shared some inspiring insights about the key to career success and longevity with the audience.
"People ask me, you've been a cop for thirty years, how do you survive that long? There's no secret formula, but for me, I always tried to never take myself too seriously, to try to be resilient and to always see the good in people," she said.
"My advice, particularly younger women who are striving to make their way: If someone comes to you with an opportunity or a challenge, take it. Take on any opportunity that presents itself. If you give women a go, you can achieve monumental stuff."
Deborah's presentation was highly relevant to the theme of International Women's Day for 2012, which is 'Connecting Girls and Inspiring Futures.'
In addition to the Women of the West celebrations, the occasion will also be marked at UWS with a special International Women's Day breakfast on Thursday 8th March, 2012.
6 March 2012
Photo: Sally Tsoutas