Struggling to get out training because of miserable weather? We hear you! We spoke to journalist Jacinta Tynan about juggling rainy Sydney Coastrek training alongside a busy professional life, a new book launch and life as a single mum. Plus Jacinta shared her thoughts on gender bias in the workplace and what we can all do to break the cycle.
The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is #BreaktheBias. Have you witnessed an example of women, or have you been part of, breaking a bias yourself?
Women are breaking the bias every day by speaking up and showing up and refusing to be treated as ‘less than’. We assume we’ve come a long way – some even say the gender imbalance is ‘fixed’ or a non-issue – just because the blatant denigration of women in the workplace is not as prevalent. We all need to be reeducated – women and men – about the power of language to belittle and empower.
Men are called ‘powerful’ when they speak up; women are called ‘annoying’. Studies show that women don’t put their hand up for promotions yet men far less qualified will go for it without any doubts as to their abilities. It’s on all of us to watch these subtle inequalities and keep pushing through.
We are breaking the bias when we choose empowerment and ask for what we need in order to be able to make a valuable contribution as women, mothers, employees, and leaders. I see examples of this every day – from women I know, in the media and on social media. The appetite for pushback is diminishing.
Unconscious bias is still present in the workplace and the general community – have you encountered this throughout your career?
Sadly, it would be impossible to be a woman in the workplace and not experience gender bias. Sure, it was more overt when I started in my career as a TV journalist some 30 years ago. Back then I put up with – and witnessed – a blatant culture of sexism from women being chosen for roles bases purely on their looks, to more qualified women being overlooked for jobs because of their gender, to women being paid less than men and just sucking it up without question.
We have made inroads, but I don’t think the culture has necessarily had an overhaul. It’s just that now people are conscious of the ‘right’ way to behave and know they’re being watched. There’s a lagging unconscious bias and a cognitive dissonance around the treatment of women in the workplace. This cycle will be broken by constantly calling it out. Thank goodness there’s the space to do that now – to a degree.
How has training been going for Sydney Coastrek? Any obstacles or challenges you and your team have had to navigate?
As I love walking in nature, there’s been one huge obstacle to Sydney Coastrek training: record rainfall! I usually do a bushwalk most days after dropping my boys to school but I haven’t been able to do it for days. Just short bursts here and there. We’ll have to pick up our act when the rain clears.
With four working mothers on the team, the other thing getting in the way of training is trying to find a time to get us all together. We haven’t managed it yet but we’re working on it!!!
What advice do you have for fellow or first time Coastrekkers who may have faced some training hurdles? In your experience of Coastrek, what are some of the things they can look forward to on event day that might inspire them?
I’ve found in the past that so long as you’re consistent with your training – walking every day (when it’s not torrential rain!) it seems to be enough to sustain you on the day.
When you’re walking with a group whose company you enjoy, it doesn’t feel like exercise. We barely stop talking the whole way which is the best distraction. Add to that the boost of walking with hundreds of others through incredible scenery all on the same mission – not just to make it to the end but to raise funds for Beyond Blue. Being swept up in the camaraderie and the shared vision carries you along.
What else is on your desk at the moment – you’ve just published your fifth book, you’re writing for Body & Soul and you now have a high schooler in your house! Tell us about your world…
Yes, there’s a lot going on! I’m promoting my book, The Single Mother’s Social Club and getting lots of wonderful feedback from readers which makes all the hard work worth it. I write a regular column on spirituality for Body+Soul which is like a dream gig – getting to write about something I’m so fascinated by.
I’ve recently qualified as a positive mental health life coach and am working one-on-one with clients. I’m also working on a podcast and a couple of other projects. And I MC and speak at events. I have what they call a ’smorgasbord career’ and it’s all in alignment – each thing feeding the other.
On a volunteer basis, I’ll be mentoring with Raise Foundation this year – which provides in-school mentoring for at risk teens. I’m an ambassador for Raise and also for The Warrior Woman Foundation. And, yes, amongst all that I’m a single mum to my two growing boys. Motherhood goes in the volunteer category too! See why I haven’t had much time to train for Coastrek!
Jacinta Tynan is a former news presenter, Body & Soul columnist and mother of two boys. She’s the author of several books, including The Single Mother’s Social Club, which she published in 2021. Jacinta Tynan is an ambassador for Sydney Coastrek, Raise Foundation and The Warrior Woman Foundation. You can find out more about Jacinta Tynan at www.jacintatynan.com or follow her @jacintatynan.