Governor rises to the challenge

WA's next governor, Kerry Sanderson, yesterday adopted a low-key approach to becoming the first woman to hold the position, declaring she did not distinguish between men and women fulfilling roles.

Mrs Sanderson, the former agent-general and accomplished Fremantle Ports chief executive, will take office on October 20 after Buckingham Palace formally accepted Premier Colin Barnett's nomination last week.

Speaking at Government House, where she joked she was yet to see all the rooms, Mrs Sanderson was measured when asked how she felt about being WA's first female governor.

"I don't actually distinguish between men and women," she said yesterday.

"I think both do very good jobs in different ways.

"I'm pleased to be the first woman, in some ways (I'm) a role model, but I think I just do the work in the same way, and I've always worked with both men and women and enjoy that."

The 63-year-old, who has two sons and was widowed in 2007, revealed she thought twice about accepting the position for fear it would distance her from her loved ones.

"I have to do it in a way that doesn't distance myself from family and friends," Mrs Sanderson said.

She described the initial three-year appointment as "humbling and daunting".

Mrs Sanderson decided to accept after realising she had been similarly hesitant about running Fremantle Ports and becoming agent-general - WA's economic ambassador in London - only for the positions to prove very fulfilling.

"I'm very passionate about science, particularly encouraging people to study science at school and scientific research, and also jobs for our children, so I'm interested in working with businesses and looking at issues such as international competitiveness," she said.

National Council of Women WA president Marion Ward said Mrs Sanderson had proved herself and was a wonderful appointment.

"We at the council don't just say a woman should have this or that," she said. "We want women with credentials to be recognised in all fields."

Mr Barnett said Mrs Sanderson was "an outstanding Western Australian in every respect".

Opposition Leader Mark McGowan said it was pleasing WA would have its first female governor and paid tribute to Mrs Sanderson's predecessor Malcolm McCusker.


The West Australian

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