Tracy Spicer would probably use the ‘F-bomb’ in her description of the WIM WA event “In Conversation with Tracey Spicer”, held in the ABC studio, on Wednesday 14 June, 2017. In her richly informative and very entertaining chat with WIM committee member, Bridget Egan, Tracy encouraged the audience to swear liberally and with confidence. Her maxim: men do, so why can’t women?
Tracey’s career as a journalist has spanned national network news and current affairs, talk-back radio, print and online news. She is also a speaker, documentary film-maker, committee member of WIM in New South Wales, mother of two and, self-confessed ‘bogan’. In Perth as a guest of WIM WA, Tracy was also selling her recently published book, “The Good Girl Stripped Bare.”
Her leap into publishing a memoir was more opportunistic than long term plan.
“As a journalist you just want to tell other people’s stories.” However, after doing a stand-up comedy gig with friend Wendy Harmer, she was approached by Harper Collins about writing her memoir. So began Tracey’s journey as an author with “The Good Girl Stripped Bare,” written in a comedy voice, because often “…the best way to get a serious message across is through comedy.”
“I thought it might be the only opportunity in my career to talk about the challenges woman face in the workplace, a bit of the history of feminism, how far we have come and how far we still have to go, through the lens of my 30 years in the media,” Tracey said.
A radio producer once described Tracey’s style as “straight from the heart with research to back it up,” and this is reflected in her writing. Tracey’s shares her very personal journey, talking about family, gender, class and her career in a field historically considered the domain of men. Her message to women facing unconscious bias and gender discrimination in the workplace is, “In solidarity there is progress. Find a workplace that will support you… find people in your workplace that will support you.”
The evening was filled with warmth, encouragement and shared stories. There was also deserved acknowledgement of some of Perth’s successful women leaders in media, in particular Linda Wayman, who until recently, was for 15 years General Manager at Southern Cross Austereo and radio station Hit 92.9FM.
Opening the evening, Linda shared a heartfelt letter sent to her by a talented woman she employed many years ago, who had applied for the job after finding herself single and with a six week old baby. Linda saw potential and, in the words of her protégé, took a chance on her “…when no-one else in the universe would.” Asked what she looks for when she interviews people, Linda’s answer was simple. She looks for, “A light in their eyes” and “…for someone in whom I can believe.”
Both Linda and Tracey entertained and inspired the 120 WIMers and gave energy to a terrific period of networking, story-telling and book buying.
Recent retiree from ABC Radio, Rosemary Greeham said she felt lucky to have worked in an egalitarian environment where diversity was encouraged. “It is disheartening that the issues women face today haven’t changed much since the 1970s… We need these conversations. It sounds like we [at the ABC] were protected compared to woman working in commercial television.”
Sarah-Jane Aston from PR Agency Cannings Purple said, “Tracey Spicer is so funny. I will definitely be reading her book. It has made me more appreciative of where I work… where we have a blend of role models, women and men. As a young graduate I feel I can talk about how to achieve my goals without being sidelined because I am a woman.”
The discussion about ‘unconscious bias’ hit a note with Kate Lever from the Stirling Times, Community Newspapers Group. “I thought Tracey was really entertaining… she signed my book and even put a few swear words in there. I think it was a really empowering talk and it has inspired me to speak when something is not right, to talk to my manager and act more on those feelings.”
Women were not the only ones motivated by Ms Spicer. Secondary School Media Teacher Joshua Pippin came to the event because he wants to better engage with and empower his female students, equipping them with skills to be effective in the workplace. He was inspired by the idea of the “Pussy Mafia.” Joshua said, “How do we apply this whole thing, to work together as people united in solidarity against structural discrimination? That for me was a big takeaway point. Also, inspiring my students as female media enthusiasts. How do they get out there and make what they want to make and not put up with shit from other people? We are all allowed to like what we like!”
Andrew Perron said, “The talk was absolutely amazing, like listening to a Beyonce album, very uplifting and kind of fills your spirit. As a man… listening to the problems Tracey has to work through was incredible. I feel like my eyes have been opened for the first time. I want to figure out how someone in my position, as an aspiring doctor of medicine, can support women in whatever they do.”
WIM Committee member Bridget Egan said, “Tracey Spicer is an inspiring speaker who opens the window for women to see what is possible and breaks down established myths about women in the workplace. So we can all rise up together, to make workplaces better places, for women and for everyone.”
The last word came from Ms Spicer herself. “I loved talking to like-minded women, the next generation, fighting the good fight. They give me hope for the future. Martin Luther King Jnr said, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice,” and I hope women are inspired to make choices that change workplaces.”
In Celtic the name Tracey means ‘fierce’ or ‘fighter’ and Ms Spicer is certainly ‘bringing it’ in her quest for social justice, diversity and gender equity in the media.
If you want to hear more about Tracey, you can watch her TEDx talk, which as of today has 2,297,768 views on YouTube. And you can buy her book, “The Good Girl Stripped Bare.”
Next time you see a WIM event advertised, don’t hesitate. Book a ticket immediately. I can guarantee it will be worth it.
Andrea Byrne is a mature-age student who recently graduated from Murdoch University with a Bachelor of Communications (double major in Communications Media and Public Relations and a minor in Journalism). She was co-recipient of the 2016 Public Relations Prize for most outstanding final year student, and recipient of a Vice-Chancellors Commendation, awarded for academic excellence. She is currently enrolled in the Honours program at Murdoch, in the area of Communications Media.