Tag Archives: women in leadership

Connecting Women Leaders in STEM

Jo Stewart-Rattray heads ISACA’s Connecting Women Leaders in Technology program, dedicated to developing women leaders in STEM.

Deloitte Global projects less than 25% of IT jobs in developed countries will be held by women at the close of 2016. My hope is that the women graduating in STEM careers this year quickly find employment in roles they can enjoy, learn and grow from, and become successful in their careers.

Of course, my wish is the same for men who are also graduating at this exciting and disruptive time in business. However, the female student’s journey to graduation and beyond is very different to that of men.

For example, female students in STEM are often the only one in their class. I have sat in many boardrooms where I am the only woman in the room. I’ve also been the only woman at conferences on information security.

Over my 25 year career, not much has changed, and I know from speaking with other women leaders in STEM that they have had similar experiences. This is not just an Australian issue. It is a problem across the globe.

A study of 22,000 global public companies by Peterson Institute for International Economics and EY shows that the net profit margin of a company can be increased by more than 6% if a company has a minimum of 30% women in the C-suite.

Most importantly, without women in the workforce, we simply won’t have the resources to continue to fuel the job economy and innovation.

So what can be done to develop women leaders in STEM?

In my experience, a multi-faceted approach is needed. It involves:

  • businesses providing flexible work options;
  • connecting their employees with both men and women leaders in STEM for mentoring;
  • sponsoring and encouraging young professionals to understand their potential career paths and rewards; and
  • instilling in female students the confidence to follow their passion and be resilient.

In terms of mentoring, I learned early on to find men and women role models and mentors. I was able to do this through ISACA, a professional organisation for IT audit, risk, governance and cybersecurity professionals. My membership and involvement in ISACA enabled me to network with local and global peers, who really helped encourage and guide me in my career.

And now, I am incredibly humbled to spearhead ISACA’s Connecting Women Leaders in Technology program, which aims to inspire and engage women to grow and become leaders in our field.

It has been an enriching and rewarding experience to see young professionals excel by following their passion. 

So my message to future women leaders in STEM is to ‘Go for it!’ Have the resilience and confidence to seek the career you want, and find a mentor or bright star who can help guide you along the way.

Together, we will all prosper and learn from one another, as we innovate and create in the years to come.

Jo Stewart-Rattray

women leaders in STEM


Board director of ISACA

Director of information security and IT assurance at BRM Holdich, Australia

Hear from other Australian leaders on how to support women in STEM in the Women in STEM Thought Leadership Series:

Women in STEM: the revolution ahead

WA women join Antarctic leadership mission

Featured image above: women in sustainability head to Antarctica

A group of female scientists from Western Australia are preparing to embark on a leadership voyage to Antarctica.

The eight local researchers are among 78 women from around the world taking part in Homeward Bound, a 20-day trip that aims to enhance the influence and impact of women in science, and ensure the sustainability of our planet.

One of the youngest participants, PhD student Sandra Kerbler from the ARC Centre of Excellence in Plant Energy Biology at UWA, says she is passionate about women in science and the improving gender inequality they experience.

“Only 10 to 15 per cent of top level scientists are women so there’s not very many of us, and it’s become more and more apparent how prevalent that is as I’ve been going through my studies,” she says.

“I find this really discouraging and I want to be able to fix it in some way.”

Among those joining Kerbler on the voyage—including a potentially hairy crossing of the Drake Passage—are Curtin University sustainability researcher Samantha Hall and SciTech Aboriginal education program coordinator Kathleen Patrick.

Hall says she believes women are often more attracted to sustainability.

“I really think that an integral step to bringing the planet back to being healthy and sustainable is that we need more involvement of women’s voices, and we have to make those voices heard,” she says.

“That was really the brief for Homeward Bound, it was ‘how do we get these voices at the leadership table’.”

Hall, who is a co-founder of Simply Carbon, says finding ways to overcome self-doubt and lack of confidence could help translate more women’s ideas into action, particularly in the start-up and innovation space.

Patrick says the most exciting thing about the expedition for her is the opportunity to network with the other women involved.

“I love meeting other people who are doing similar and different things in other parts of the world, sharing knowledge…and also borrowing ideas and tapping into other people’s programs,” she says.

“For me it’s [about] meeting 77 other women who are kicking goals in their respective fields.”

Ms Kerbler says she is looking forward to doing something she had never even dreamed of before.

“Going to the end of the world is definitely a big highlight for me, learning more about the strategy and leadership skills I’ll need to continue on in science and hopefully make myself a bit more competitive when it comes to my scientific career,” she says.

– Michelle Wheeler

This article about women in sustainability was first published by ScienceNetwork WA on 30 September 2016. Read the original article here.

Gender equality and innovation

Australia needs to be more innovative in our approach to gender equity. It’s time to do things differently and be bolder in our commitment to diversity.

During my training as a medical researcher, women represented more than 50% of my undergraduate class and almost 75% of my PhD peer group. But the pipeline approach has failed; putting 50% of women into the science system at a junior level has not seen 50% of women in senior leadership pop out the other end. And it’s been this way for more than 20 years.

In 2016 men continue to hold the majority of Australia’s top leadership positions in science, research, innovation and business. The next generation will always be different, but we cannot place the burden of gender equity on those who follow us. We need to lead from the top and from the front, creating a pull-through effect that draws women through the pipeline and enables them to lead.

Insist on inclusiveness

Equity is everyone’s issue, and we need to insist on inclusiveness. Speak up about all male conference panels, research grant teams, boards and committees – especially if you’re involved in them. Call it when you see it, and provide a pathway to change; reach out with the names of women who could participate and promote conscious consideration of diversity.

“Innovation is a people-driven process that thrives on diverse thinking and views. To build a strong, resilient and successful innovation ecosystem, Australia needs to harness the talents of both men and women.”

If it matters, measure it

Everyone is accountable for equity. Scientists and managers alike know you need to measure what matters in order to understand it. Organisations should collect data and report on all aspects of gender equity in the workplace, and be open and transparent in sharing that information.

Look out as well as in

A lack of women in leadership is not unique to the science and research sector. We need to investigate and consider programs and policies that have had impact in other industries. There is no silver bullet solution or single way to address all of the challenges around diversity. We need to do all that we can to support women at all career stages, and at all places along the pipeline.

Innovation is a people-driven process that thrives on diverse thinking and views. To build a strong, resilient and successful innovation ecosystem, Australia needs to harness the talents of both men and women. Diverse teams make better decisions, and to innovate during times of transformation, Australia will need all hands on deck – an inclusive ecosystem that values and promotes women.

Dr Krystal Evans

Chief Executive Officer of the BioMelbourne Network

Learn more: Click here to see a timeline of gender equality in Australian education and the workplace put together by Open Colleges

Read next: Professor Peter Klinken, Chief Scientist of Western Australia on innovation in Western Australia.

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