Why We Need More Women Leaders in Australia

Discover the importance of women's leadership in advancing gender equity in Australia.
IWD blog
Women & Leadership Australia
3 min read
At Women & Leadership Australia, we believe in the power of women’s leadership. Advancing women into leadership positions is a matter of equity and further advances the basic human right to equal opportunity.

With over 60,000 graduates, we are continuously working hand in hand with industries, workplaces and individuals in Australia to create new opportunities, invest in skills and leadership development, and advocate for tangible change in our society. Why are women’s leadership programs still so important in 2023? We conducted an analysis of over 3,000 survey responses from program graduates. We found that 82 per cent of women were concerned about navigating bias in the workforce. Furthermore, 75 per cent of respondents reported feeling that they lacked opportunities for advancement, and 79 per cent reported feeling uneasy about balancing competing work and home priorities. On International Women’s Day, we are reminded that an ongoing commitment to gender equity is still critical. While we can’t resolve gender equity on our own, we are proud to deliver safe spaces for women leaders to learn, network and be inspired on their leadership journeys – every day of the year.

Safe spaces for women to learn and practice leadership skills

“Every year, we have the opportunity to work with hundreds of industry groups across Australia to promote women’s leadership development opportunities. It is heartening to see the genuine interest in, and commitment to, advancing gender equity in Australia. The support we get from industries helps us deliver industry-based scholarships, meaning that more women can access our programs,” says Karen Taylor, CEO of Women & Leadership Australia. We support thousands of women through our events and programs each year, and partner with a growing number of businesses to deliver tailored leadership programs for their teams. And we know our programs deliver tangible results for participants. Our research found that:

  • 81 per cent of participants reported an improvement in their people management skills
  • 78 per cent of participants were able to give and receive feedback more effectively
  • 92 per cent of participants reported feeling more confident in their roles

Opportunities for women to connect, share and learn

Networking opportunities create space for women to connect, hear from diverse individuals, and expand their learnings. The Australian Women’s Leadership Symposiums bring over 1,000 women (and some men!) together annually, to share insights, gain diverse perspectives, and contribute to the conversation around gender equity in Australia. WLA’s symposium grants provides 64 women from diverse or marginalised communities the opportunity to attend these events– free of charge. This means we can break down barriers that prevent equal participation in leadership spaces.

Increase visibility of women leaders and role models

Recognition of exceptional women leaders has increased significantly in the last decade. Awards programs like WLA’s Australian Awards for Excellence in Women’s Leadership, and campaigns like the Victorian Government’s ‘Recognition Matters’ and the independent campaign ‘Honour a Woman’ serve to create more visibility around the amazing contributions that women make in our society. Every year, we use our awards program to recognise exceptional women leaders from across the entire nation – you can see the 2023 recipients here.

We also increase visibility within organisations. Our in-house offerings give organisations the opportunity to increase the visibility and representation of women leaders. We also offer programs for mixed-gender groups, because everyone deserves to develop their leadership skills. We all know that in Australia, we still have work to do when it comes to achieving gender equity.

However, at WLA we really do see positive progress every day. We see it in the industries we collaborate with, we see it in the women at our events, we see it in the closing of the gender gap in awards programs. We especially see it in our participants – our research found that more than 60 per cent of participants had actively begun discussions about gender equity at work and home, and 74 per cent had actively sought to mentor or sponsor other women in their organisation at the conclusion of their leadership development program. To continue our impact this International Women’s Day, we are offering partial scholarships across our four flagship programs for women at all levels. You can find out more and join the push for gender equality here.