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New course will give Jewish women skills to moderate panel discussions

The Jewish Independent and JOFA Australia are launching an online course to redress a gender imbalance in public debate.
Sharon Berger and Nomi Kaltmann
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Published: 26 January 2024

Last updated: 19 March 2024

The Jewish Independent and JOFA Australia are launching an online course to redress a gender imbalance in public debate.

Why are we doing this?

In a world where diverse perspectives should be celebrated, we have noticed a significant gender disparity and the under-representation of women in the role of community moderators, not to mention panellists. The Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance in Australia (JOFA) began with a mission to promote the voices of women.

The Jewish Independent is an independent media company looking to broaden the communal conversation. We both share a passion for equality and inclusivity, recognising that, at times, the Jewish community can suffer from a lack of diverse voices, whether that be gender, age, ethnicity or socio-economic status. This realisation fuelled our determination to curate a program aimed at training women of all ages and backgrounds to become moderators, filling an important void.

The program focuses on equipping women with the necessary skills to navigate and moderate community spaces effectively. Professionally, we are both often searching for skilled female moderators, and we know that many other organisations struggle, too. Unfortunately, when struggling to find one, they may default to the troubling outcome of a ‘manel’ (an all-male panel). There is no shortage of female talent in our community. Rather, this scarcity often stems from women having a lack of confidence rather than capability.

So, we decided to do something about it and set up a practical training program to upskill potential moderators.

We designed two online workshops starting in March which will bring together a small group of women, no matter their location in Australia and no matter their age or level of moderating experience, to learn, grow, and gain the confidence to learn about how to moderate a panel.

Moderating is a deceptively tricky skill that can make or break a panel discussion. Not enough moderation and the panel becomes indulgent and goes off topic. Too much moderation and the discussion lags. But the good news is that moderating is a skill that can be taught. Our program will give women a first-hand opportunity to conduct interviews and receive feedback during the sessions.

Our program will also guide moderators towards mastering various moderation formats, ensuring they can  navigate diverse conversation styles. We will equip moderators with strategies for handling disruptions calmly and maintaining control without stifling debate.

And the best part? The $100 registration cost will be refunded after participants complete their first moderating gig!

Our community needs more talented female moderators, panellists and role models.

Our motivation is deeply rooted in the belief that diverse voices contribute to more robust and well-rounded community discussions. By training women as moderators, we aim to create spaces for women to have a seat at the table and play a pivotal role in decision-making.

We hope that after completing this program, women who once hesitated to step into the role of moderators will now actively contribute to shaping community narratives. Our aim is to extend its impact beyond a community setting, with the skills and confidence gained through our program empowering women to take on leadership roles in various aspects of their lives.

CLICK HERE to sign up.

About the author

Sharon Berger is Events & Partnerships Manager for Plus61J Media. Nomi Kaltmann is founder and inaugural president of the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance Australia (JOFA).

The Jewish Independent acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the Traditional Owners and Custodians of Country throughout Australia. We pay our respects to Elders past and present, and strive to honour their rich history of storytelling in our work and mission.

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