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WOMEN IN ROTARY
By Kerry Kornhauser
Founder of Women in Rotary Australia
When recent focus groups, in places as diverse as Buenos Aires, Tokyo, Sydney
and Chicago, were asked to characterise Rotary and Rotarians, their responses
included: “Business men”, “elite”, “secretive”, “old”, “wealthy” and “not sure that
women are allowed into local clubs”.
After more than 20 years since women were first admitted into Rotary, the
perception that women are not allowed or welcome in Rotary continues in all
regions. Perhaps this explains the alarming statistic that just 18 per cent of
Rotarians worldwide are women.
Why does this matter?
The low number of women in Rotary matters for two main reasons.
First, women represent a large, untapped pool of potential volunteers.
At the heart of each Rotary club is its volunteer members. However, over
the past decade there has been no growth in the total number of Rotarians
worldwide, with many clubs struggling to maintain members. In fact, were it
not for the increased number of women Rotarians during this period, Rotary
would have over 115,000 fewer members than a decade ago!
Currently, we have about 1.2 million Rotarians worldwide. If we had a 50/50
gender split, we could arrest the decline in the number of Rotarians and
build up a volunteer base of more than two million Rotarians. Imagine what a
difference that would make!
Second, more women in Rotary is likely to help us better deliver our services.
It is not that women make “better ” Rotarians. Rather, increased diversity
yields better outcomes, and clubs that reflect the communities they serve may
be able to better engage those communities and meet their needs.
In the corporate world, research has repeatedly linked greater gender
diversity on companies’ boards with better financial returns: of Fortune 500
companies, for example, those with more women board members outperform
those with the least by 53 per cent in return on equity!
Increasing the number of women in Rotary is not about fairness or equality.
It simply makes sense if we want to continue doing what we have been doing
for more than 100 years.
There is a large and growing number of women in senior business and
community roles with a great deal to contribute through Rotary. Why are they
not gravitating towards us? This is our loss.
The questions remain: How do we change the perception of potential
women volunteers? How do we attract them to Rotary? What strategies do
the District Governors and Presidents of today have planned, and what are
their ideas for tomorrow?
As a fellow female Rotarian I throw this challenge to both men and women:
How do we increase female membership and spread the word that women are
welcome in Rotary?
We need to work hard to encourage more women to join Rotary and
dispel the myth that they are not welcome. The future of Rotary depends on
enthusiastic membership. All ideas are welcome. Contact Kerry Kornhauser at
email@example.com or visit www.rotarywomen.org.au.
In Search of the
Ken McInerney, D9780
Ken joined the Rotary
Club of Bordertown,
SA, in 1997 and
since then has held
twice. Ken was also
Assistant Governor Clubs for Group 2,
a position he held for three years. The
opportunity to lead his District as District
Governor 2013-14 is a great honour and
privilege and he intends to continue the
great work carried out by Past District
Governors and keep District 9780 in
the forefront of Districts in Zone 8. He
and wife Sandra are looking forward to
meeting many Rotarians while visiting
clubs and the opportunity to share an
invaluable experience, enjoy fellowship
and “Engage Rotary Change Lives”.
Philip Clancy, D9790
Philip grew up on the
family farm in Kilmore
and became involved
in community affairs
and Young Farmers.
Horticulture was his
career choice and he went on to teach
in the Horticulture Trades area. While in
his twenties he joined the Rotary Club of
Oakleigh, Vic, and later the Rotary Club
of Kilmore/Broadford, Vic. Philip resigned
from Rotary, given the formal attendance
rules, in the 1990s but re-joined in 2006,
pleased with the direction Rotary was
promoting. He is keen on social justice
issues and supports a National Response
process for our Disaster Recovery work.
Philip and wife Helen have three children
and five grandchildren.
Ross Butterworth, D9800
Ross has been a
member of the Rotary
Club of Melton Valley,
Vic, since 1994,
holding a number
of club and District
Executive Assistant Governor and Rotar y
Leadership Institute Training Facilitator,
along with serving as the District Director
Community Ser vice and as District
Director International Ser vice. Ross has
a strong belief in Service Above Self and
actively strives to make a difference within
his community. Ross’s working career
commenced in Melbourne’s premier
hotels and had a distinguished career
within the hospitality industry. He and
wife Annette have four children and
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