Kay McGrath has appeared nightly in living rooms across Queensland for 39 years and the Channel 7 news anchor credits her success to the power of women.
“Women are more powerful when they stand together and we can help lift one another up and share our stories,” she says.
“It takes a lot of courage to get out of your comfort zone, to speak up, to step into our power and it’s difficult to do that as an individual.
“But to be part of a collective … that other women have your back, that’s empowering.”
The New Zealand born-journalist says her interest in people is her lucky break.
“I am from a certain generation where traditionally women were given the softer human interest rounds,” says McGrath, who now presents the ratings-winning weekend news for Seven Queensland.
“I had no burning desire to report on affairs in Canberra and as I did have that genuine interest in human nature and human beings, I didn’t have to rail and push hard against that overt discrimination.”
Being so passionate about empowering women is why McGrath takes her volunteer role as an organising committee member of the National Women in Media Organisation so seriously.
“I really, really, really encourage them [women] to join Women in Media or any other collective that will give them more confidence to back themselves and to learn. We need these movements, we need these organisations to grow that collective voice and help women gain more confidence,” she says.
Although the annually held national conferences are designed to give insight to up and coming or current journalists, McGrath’s biggest goal is to create a supportive environment.
“We all have a responsibility to share our learnings so Women in Media is a no-brainer. We have a lot of laughs and we encourage one another. We actually informally mentor one another. We’re just a group of intelligent, seasoned journalists coming together.”
And her greatest tip of advice? Never stop learning.
“I really encourage young women to keep their ears open and possibly their mouths closed and to learn, to soak it up,” she says.
“At the ripe old age of 61, there is a great deal of wisdom to be gathered along the way and you’re not going to do it unless you’re willing to pause along the way and listen and then proceed.”
Since a high school teacher opened her eyes to the world of journalism, McGrath hasn’t looked back.
“One woman who did have a huge influence on me was a teacher called Mrs East, who’d worked on the Washington Post and New York Times. To this day, I am really grateful that she encouraged me on this path because it all did work out rather well.”
Kay McGrath will make another step in her commitment to sharing her wisdom with the next generation of female journalists, when she takes to the stage at the Women in Media Conference at Bond University from September 14-15.
Author: Niamh Sullivan