Ita Buttrose has led a life of incredible firsts.
In 1972, she founded Cleo, one of the first Australian magazines to embrace feminism and women’s liberation.
In the 1980s, she became the first female editor of a major metropolitan newspaper in Australia.
Even her second pregnancy, during and after which she continued to work, was a groundbreaking feat at the time.
Her countless accomplishments are all the more impressive considering the climate in which they were made.
Ita’s career began in 1957, when she joined The Australian Women’s Weekly as a copy girl at just 15 years of age.
“I just wanted to write–I knew what I wanted to do when I was 11,” she has since said.
She would later return to the Weekly as editor-in-chief.
After more than a decade as a prominent journalist and editor, Ita faced discrimination when she was appointed to run the Sunday and Daily Telegraphs by Rupert Murdoch in 1981.
“I remember walking the gauntlet of the editorial room where I was hissed at by the men,” she told the crowd at a 2017 International Women’s Day speaking engagement.
Yet she persevered, and accolades soon followed.
Ita was named an Officer of the Order of Australia in 1988 and Australian of the Year in 2013, among others.
Today, she is putting her influential position to good use as an ambassador for Alzheimer’s Australia and a champion for gender equality in male-dominated industries and high-level positions.
“Women should remember that they have a right to be there,” she said.
“It’s in all of our interests that boys and girls, men and women, have equal opportunity.”
Unsurprisingly, getting older has only increased her drive to make a difference, and she spurns any talk of retirement while there’s still work to do.
She told The Sydney Morning Herald, “I’ve always been busy, but I can tell you my life’s never been busier than it is right now!”
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