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Earlier this month, Treasurer Ben Wyatt announced the appointment of Kaylene Gulich as the Chief Executive Officer of the Western Australian Treasury Corporation, the State’s central borrowing authority.

Undertaking a national recruitment process, the WATC board identified Ms Gulich as the best person to manage the organisation and support the McGowan Government’s strong focus on financial management.

Kaylene Gulich, who is a kick-ass working mother, will be the first female CEO of the WATC—an organisation that was established in 1986. She begins her five year term on February 4, 2019.

Ms Gulich—a graduate of Curtin University—holds a Bachelor of Social Science (Politics) with Honours, Bachelor of Commerce (Accounting), Master of Business Administration, and Master of Leadership and Management. She has held a number of senior positions across the WA Department of Treasury, and has previously served on the board of the WATC and the Gold Corporation.

Treasurer Ben Wyatt congratulated Ms Gulich on her appointment, expressing his confidence in her ability to lead the WATC into the future.

Kaylene will be joining the ranks of Western Australia’s small group of female CEOs.

A long way to go

The 2018 Gender Equality at Work report assessed the performance of gender diversity for the ASX200—the most prominent companies in Australia. The report found that even though there has been more female than male graduates in the last thirty-two years, there are only twelve women in ASX200 chief executive roles.

Additionally, they found that only twenty companies have women in CFO positions, forty-one companies have no women in executive management at all, and there are more men named Andrew than there are female CEOs.

In the field of economics, we are yet to have a female Treasurer or a Chief Economist. We are still waiting for a woman to head the Productivity Commission, the Australia Securities and Investment Corporation, or the Treasury (federal).

So while—as a woman in economics—the appointment of Kaylene Gulich as the first female CEO of WATC gives me hope, it also reminds me of how far we have to go.

Why? Because it feels like a cause for celebration. And that’s because it’s not the norm.

When a man is made CEO of a huge corporation, do the headlines read “company appoints male CEO”?

No, they don’t. Because it’s not unusual. Yet, when a woman earns an executive position, it always seems to be about gender. And while I understand that this serves as an important signal to society that things are changing, I impatiently look forward, waiting for the day when the appointment of a female CEO, is just as exciting as the appointment of a man.

But I digress …

While there is room for improvement, it shouldn’t take away from the appointment of Ms Gulich, who in 2013 won the WA Institute of Public Administration’s ‘Patrons Award’. This award represents the highest accolade in public administration and is presented to individuals who have made significant contributions to the State.

In 2002 Ms Gulich was a Graduate, ten years later she was a Director, and in a few days she will be the CEO of the State’s central financial services provider. And that is definitely an achievement worth celebrating.

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