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Open Right

Dr Susan Carland

Corporate, Social Commentator, Speaking Out

Dr Susan Carland has recently completed a PhD at Monash University, where she researched the way Muslim women fight sexism within the Muslim community. She also seems to pop up on numerous lists.

To whit:

  • In 2012 she was named on the 20 Most Influential Australian Female Voices list by The Age.
  • She has also been named on the 500 Most Influential Muslims in the World list, and as a “Muslim Leader of Tomorrow” by the UN Alliance of Civilizations.

Where were you born?

Melbourne, Victoria. I’m quite parochial, as you can see.

What themes are recurring in your work?

Gender, Muslims, Islam, women, society, culture, assumptions.

What have been the highlights of your career?

This isn’t the most high-ranking presentation I gave, but it’s probably the one that has stuck with me the most: I gave a talk in a regional town about the experiences of Muslim women in Australia to a couple of hundred people. At the end of my presentation, the convener rose to give the motion of thanks, and he was crying. He said “I am leaving here a changed person.” I don’t think my talk was anything unusually earth-shattering, but it powerfully demonstrated to me that if people are given the chance to hear an alternative to the mind-numbing rhetoric blaring in the media and public conversation about Muslims, transformation can occur.

Where have your works been published?

My writing has been published in newspapers both locally and internationally, as well as in parenting magazines, websites, academic journals, and books.

What are you passionate about?

Bringing some nuance and substance to the way Muslims, and particularly Muslim women, are understood and discussed in modern-day Australia.

Haven’t I seen you before?

Perhaps (although that may be because some people think all Muslim women in hijab look the same). I’ve been on Q and A, do a regular paper review on ABCTV News Breakfast, Agony Aunts, Salam Café, Sunrise, and Compass, and spoken at cool places like the Sydney Opera House, the Australian High Commission in Malaysia, and Senator Penny Wong’s International Women’s Day breakfast. However, you’ve most probably recognized me from the ice-cream aisle at the supermarket.

Anything else you’d like to share with us?

A little girl on the street once came up to me and asked, her eyes shining with wonder, “Are you a fairy princess?”

Just FYI Australia: THAT’S the kind of random comment Muslim women in hijab want from strangers on the street, not the other kind.

Testimonials

The students appreciated this visit very much, with discussion going on far past the time that Susan came. Some students were taken by the friendly and outgoing honesty that Susan provided and the way in which delicate subjects were approached. Susan was a very friendly, outgoing and approachable person to the students and the staff, and gave time to students far beyond the time allocated, which was appreciated by the students very much as well as a number of staff. Would love to have her back for further discussion.

—N. Burke, St. Leonard's College, August 2015

Susan Carland’s session on challenging unconscious bias and perceptions, making positive change and Australia’s cultural landscape was thought-provoking and insightful. Susan has a brilliant way of balancing personal stories and insights with evidence based data from her studies. Her session was energising and left the group feeling uncomfortable (in the best possible way) and inspired.

—N. Connor, Public Transport Victoria, July 2016

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