While women in the same career are often pitted against each other, most of them are actually on the same page, agreeing that they all say “sorry” too much.
Many trailblazing Australian women agreed it was time to stop apologising for simply “existing” during The Australian Women’s Weekly’s Women of The Future Awards in October 2022.
Natalie Barr, Sarah Harris and Melissa Doyle were among the many who expressed their contempt for the word “sorry” and all of its connotations.
“We’re apologists, we don’t want to make a fuss and we want to apologise all the time,” Nat told The Weekly at the time.
“I don’t think we want to blame men for any of that, we want to blame ourselves. I think it’s our own fault a lot of the time, we need to change our language.”
The Project’s Sarah Harris agreed that women need to stop saying “so many things” but chose “I’m sorry” as the worst offender.
We have to stop apologising for speaking, for putting our point of view forward, for existing,” she said.
“We have to stop apologising for speaking, for putting our point of view forward, for existing,”Sarah Harris
Melissa Doyle also shared some career advice, telling The Weekly: “I feel like it’s such a default to apologise if we ask for something, to apologise if we expect something and we shouldn’t. We should just go for it.”
For decades, women have been apologising for everything – from sharing ideas in the workplace, to expecting certain standards from a romantic partner, to speaking out against harassment.
They apologise for asserting themselves, for taking up space, for making basic requests of the people around them.
As the former Governor-General of Australia, Dame Quentin Bryce, said: “We go ‘oh I’m sorry’, being apologetic for stepping in, or stepping out, or doing something that we think wasn’t just perfectly done.”
And studies show that women apologise more than men, with one from the University of Waterloo, Canada suggesting it’s because women have a lower threshold than men for what they consider offensive.
But as stars like Nat, Sarah and Mel attest, it’s time to stop apologising and start asserting ourselves.