40 over 40: a list we really need to celebrate

Updated: Feb 23, 2021

They are leaders in their fields, captains of industry, women who have achieved success, fame, and big salaries – and they’re doing it despite their age. Who doesn’t love a 40 under 40 list? Readers certainly do, which is why magazines likes Forbes and practically every newspaper lifestyle section in the western world loves to run an annual 40 under 40 list.

Celebrating the success of women is something we should do more of and while it’s great to see women like Miranda Kerr, Roxy Jacenko, and Canva’s Melanie Perkins achieve the heights of success despite limited experience and backing, wouldn’t it be great – just for once – to see a 40 over 40 list?

Australia is full of amazing women achieving greatness, in the public eye and out of it, who happen to be over the age of 40. Sure, they may not have all the disadvantages of youth but their achievements are no less great – especially when you consider they’re also probably running families, engaged in other forms of employment, and that they’ve had a lifetime longer of hearing people tell them they can’t do it.

So who would we put on our 40 over 40 list? The list is endless! To begin with, how about journalists Jessica Rowe and Lisa Wilkinson, women who have done the seemingly impossible and remained on TV despite not being in their 20s? And while we’re there, how awesome is Ita Buttrose?

In politics we have a number of women over 40 performing what some see as one of the most thankless jobs in the world, including Tanya Plibersek, Sarah Henderson, and let’s not forget Penny Wong, whose lists of successes are enormous and all achieved while being a queer woman of colour.

Not all successful women over 40 do their work in the limelight. We’ve got Natalie Isaacs, founder and CEO of 1 Million Women, Sam Mostyn, the first female AFL Commissioner, Dr Fiona Wood AM, the plastic surgeon and burns researcher who pioneered ‘spray-on skin’ cell technology, and Shelley Barrett, CEO of Harvey Norman.

In fact, give us any field and we’ll show you countless women who are surpassing expectations, delivering ground breaking research, and making fortunes, all despite being over the age of 40.

As well as delivering a great service to the community and to business, these women are providing another invaluable service: as an inspiration to our daughters – as well as their mums who harbour dreams of greatness. Now, that really is a list worth celebrating.

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