I am very tired! Like a ‘cry in your cup of tea after a relatively minor outlook problem’ tired. Writing on the second last day of the working year, I am frustrated by how much there is left to do, but with no desire to do any of it. It’s been a very big year personally for me: splitting my time between my place in Wollongong and my partner’s place in Sydney; buying, renovating, then moving into my apartment; supporting friends and family through new parenthood, grief, and health challenges. It sometimes feels like I haven’t stopped.
Then, of course, there is my work life. I don’t think 2023 had the frenetic energy of 2022 – a new job, new book, new teaching, and new project really kept me on my toes – but there was lots and lots of work. I have had four peer-reviewed articles accepted (you can read the ones that are out here and here). I revised and resubmitted one book chapter on the development of economic history in Australia; and two journal articles on the development of annual reporting in Australia, and on postfeminist discourse in corporate media respectively.
The second half of the year saw me interview 25 women in executive and board roles of top Australian corporations. This has been a unique and fulfilling experience (I’ve written about this here), but an enormous amount of scheduling and preparation. Also on the data front, I have developed a unique database on the firm-level drivers for Australian women in corporate leadership; and have conducted archival research on women in family companies, and corporate executives in Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne. In the last couple of weeks, I began collecting 2023 data on women executives and directors, as I feel keeping my data ‘current’ (my most recent benchmark was previously 2018) will save me a lot of hassle down the road. These ‘fieldwork’ tasks are ongoing, but it feels good to be able to workshop some innovative empirical work.
Events: ran a 1-day DECRA workshop on women in Australian business history, and the 2-day Asia-Pacific Economic and Business History (APEBH) conference, for 100 delegates at the UTS Business School. I discovered that, while I am competent, I would hate a job in event planning! However, the events have led to a nice outcome: my editorship of two journal special issues, on women in enterprise, and women in employment. I am contributing articles to both, and the papers by my colleagues are fantastic. Hosting the 2023 conference in Sydney was also a condition of my colleague Sumner agreeing to host the February 2024 meeting in Hawaii, so I see it as an investment in my future happiness!
Teaching: I have had the opportunity to really develop as an educator. I taught Diversity and Inclusion – a large Masters subject in the Business School – in both Autumn and Spring. Although it was, at times, overwhelming managing 150-180 students, plus the tutor, I have been able to deliver an excellent, thought-provoking experience. I have been trying to work smarter by identifying the aspects of the course materials and assessments that are the most impactful for students.
Then there are the public things. I really enjoyed being asked to speak at the Business School International Women’s Day event in March; and being featured in The Australian on the co-optation of consultants in corporate leadership. I attended the Australian Historical Association conference, and gave seminars to the Management Discipline Group, the UTS History Seminar, and the Sydney Feminist History Group.
I did not get everything done. I overestimated my capacity over the last few months, after the end of the semester. I had grand plans to finish drafting at least one of my three pending articles; in the end that might be a job for January. I wish I could have finished more of the data I am working on, and at least one of the articles under revision I wish was accepted simply so I would no longer have to look at it. Such is life. There will always be more work.
What do I see for myself for 2024?
It is the final year of the DECRA (how??), so I am squarely focussed on making sure I deliver on my initial aims. Drafting new articles will slow down; the three I have in development at the moment will bring me to a number that well exceeds my initial aims. I will start planning and writing my book, with much of the story taking shape throughout the empirical and theoretical work I have done this year. I will be teaching the same subject, so I expect business as usual there. I have conference plans – first to Hawaii in February (thanks Sumner!) and then to Europe in June/July – and will enjoy, I’m sure, the chance to get some feedback and network with colleagues (in addition to some nice vacations).
There will be plenty of work, of course. In terms of approach, I am continually striving towards ‘less is more’; using my time in ways that are impactful and fulfilling. I am still trying to get better at saying no to things that are not DECRA related and/or don’t bring me any joy. A few such offending activities and projects have come off my desk this year, but there is always the odd lingering thing I should never have said yes to, or I felt I couldn’t say no to. More assertiveness from me regarding my time would be good; indeed if it is a project I dislike I will probably be ineffective and frustrate everyone on it anyway. I’m not bad at this by any means – my ‘shadow’ list of things I say no to is very affirming – but there is always room to improve.
On the personal front, I really don’t expect to use my annual leave renovating a house again, and hopefully a nice break mid-year will help with the fatigue! I always hope for ‘less is more’ there too – investing in people and places that fill up my cup. I am very excited to travel with my partner, and definitely want to spend more time with my niece (aka the best baby ever).
Happy holidays, and all the best for 2024.