Why We Need More Women Leaders in Australia

Discover the importance of women's leadership in advancing gender equity in Australia.
Karen Mundine and Rochelle Courtenay receiving their award
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 2024? We conducted an analysis of over 3,000 survey responses from program graduates.

We found that:

  • 82 percent of women were concerned about navigating bias in the workforce.
  • 75 percent of respondents reported feeling that they lacked opportunities for advancement.
  • 79 percent reported feeling uneasy about balancing competing work and home priorities.

Every year, when the new gender pay gap statistics are released we’re reminded that an ongoing commitment to gender equity is still critical. While we can’t resolve gender equity on our own, we’re 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 Megan Ibrahim, Acting GM 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 percent of participants reported an improvement in their people management skills
  • 78 percent of participants were able to give and receive feedback more effectively
  • 92 percent 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 40 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 2024 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 do see positive progress every day. We see it in the industries we collaborate with, we see it in the women at our events, and 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 percent of participants had actively begun discussions about gender equity at work and home, and 74 percent had actively sought to mentor or sponsor other women in their organisation after their leadership development program.

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