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February 8, 2023

International Women’s Day: Marion Bayley

Marion is the Chief Executive Officer of Deakin Residential Services Pty Ltd. Marion is a partner, mum to two amazing children, cheese lover, music listener and late-night thinker.  Her passion for people and contribution to community has led her to be on the Committee of Management for Bluebird Foundation Inc (immediate past president) Production Coordinator for GSODA Junior Players, current President and Director of the Asia Pacific Student Accommodation Association (APSAA) and Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.  She gets a real kick out of seeing young people thrive and grow in all aspects of their life whilst they are at Deakin and beyond.  

Preferred pronouns: Sher/Her/Hers

Tell us about what International Women’s Day means to you? 

International Women’s Day is a bittersweet day for me.  Like so many recognised days it is so powerful in shining a light on the complexities of gender imbalance and seeking to educate the community, however I always do feel sadness that in 2023 we still are having conversations around addressing these fundamental rights for those that identify as female – it would be wonderful to be in a place where we weren’t still talking about how many women had lost their life to domestic violence this year and why casual sexism is so prevalent and unchallenged in our community.   But as I said it is wonderful that we are able to use the platform of the day to unpack that and have some tough conversations with the intent for change as well as celebrate  and recognise so many women.   

In your time at Deakin, what has been your proudest achievement? 

This is a tough question as I’ve been so lucky to have had so many opportunities in my time at Deakin.  Obviously, stepping into the CEO role at DRS was a huge achievement, however I think my proudest achievement would be the advancements we have made in the residential education and programming space that has led to some real culture shifts in our communities.  Sitting on a panel with fellow survivors of Family Violence from the Geelong community a few years ago and being vulnerable enough to share experience in the hope it will educate young women was extremely challenging but also made me proud that I can use that insight for others.  Our Residential Leaders training program has focussed on respectful relationships for many years and our young people do seem to have a greater understanding and openness to discuss and challenge which is really exciting and hopeful when thinking about effecting change. 

We know discrimination still exists, what are some of the barriers you think that women are facing today that need more attention?  

I think in general society is facing some real challenges around immediacy, sharing of all aspects of life on social media channels, expectations and comparison focus, but I think this is especially felt by women.  Sadly, representation of women in media still focuses on image and success is often equated to when a women achieves the same as a man.  The biggest barrier here is that women aren’t losing expectations on them from a home front so kids, household chores, presentation of homes, remembering birthdays, buying gifts all these little things add up and actually what we are asking of women who are then successful in their career is to do that as well.  I know this is a generalisation, however time and time again I speak to women who can’t juggle all the responsibilities anymore and have to give up on something.  I also think we can’t forget the men – there are so many amazing men that support us but men too are faced with gender expectations to be in control, stay strong from a very early age so that narrative needs to change too.  

How do you feel Deakin supports women? 

I think the presence of women within Deakin’s senior leadership team is the first point, people need to identify with, feel represented by but also inspired at opportunity.  I also think the action based approach to strategy that we are seeing coming out of our Diversity Equity and Inclusion team is a point of difference and the commitment from the VC and Senior Executive to ensure we have inclusive communities that support women.  Providing things such as family violence leave allowances, flexibility of working arrangements, caring provisions, employee wellbeing support and even volunteering days so we can all take some time to be immersed in community and be a part of addressing gender based inequities are just a few ways. 

What are some of the ways someone can help drive a gender equal future?  

Speak up! I know this is easier said than done, but when you hear that casual sexist comment, see something that doesn’t sit right with you, notice an inequity in provision due to someone’s gender then take a moment and be the voice, particularly if you are privileged to have some weight in the conversation. We need to be brave in this space and that is regardless of how you identify in gender, as genuine equity will come from when gender isn’t a defining factor in who has power, success or privilege. 

Explore our other International Women’s Day profiles here

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