Through leadership initiatives, evidence-based research, fellowships and strategic partnerships, we are focused on finding the best levers for change to achieve equal voice, equal representation and equal recognition for women in Australia. 

Pathways to Politics

In Australia, women are under-represented across all levels of government, business, civil society and positions of influence. The Pathways to Politics Program for Women is changing the face of politics. It seeks to increase female participation in politics by equipping women with the skills and knowledge to succeed in running for elected office, and to thrive as political leaders.

The non-partisan program model was founded and launched by the University of Melbourne in 2015 in partnership with the Women’s Leadership Institute Australia, and Trawalla Foundation, and involved consultation with the Women and Public Policy Program at the Harvard Kennedy School in reference to their long-running “From Harvard Square to the Oval Office” practicum. Pathways to Politics Program for Women is a growing national network of independent state-based programs run by Australian universities which currently includes University of Melbourne, QUT and UNSW.


The Program places an emphasis on skills training, good governance, leadership and fostering strong bonds between participants.  It features guest presenters from across the political spectrum including politicians from all levels of government (both sitting and retired), public speaking professionals, campaign strategists, advisors, public policy experts, and leading figures in Australian political and public life. The Program has a practical, experiential format, supporting active participation through workshops, case studies, panel discussions, Q&As and networking opportunities. 


Now in its sixth year, the University of Melbourne program has achieved remarkable success, with 13 program alumnae elected across local, state and federal government in five years. QUT is commencing its second year of the program, and UNSW will launch in 2021. Pathways to Politics Program for Women was featured in these articles in The Age and The Guardian in 2020.


To find out more about the relevant state-based program please follow the links below:

Queensland Program (QUT)

NSW Program (UNSW) 

Victorian Program (UoM) 

Women for Media

You can’t be what you can’t see.

Lack of media coverage perpetuates the inequality. Through research, working in partnership with media organisations, facilitating media training, and maintaining our database of Australian women leaders, WLIA is committed to elevating women to gain equal impact on the public conversation across print, online, radio and TV.  

Panel Pledge

In 2012 the Women’s Leadership Institute of Australia joined with the Male Champions of Change and Chief Executive Women to launch the Panel Pledge in support of gender diversity at every public forum.

This is our Pledge:


As business and community leaders, Chief Executive Women, Women’s Leadership Institute Australia and Male Champions of Change, have united to achieve radical improvements in women’s representation in public and professional forums.

This includes being prepared to call out imbalances when they see them. The Panel Pledge is a simple, practical example of actions CEOs can take to influence system-wide change on gender equality and advancing women in leadership.

We will honour the Panel Pledge when invited to speak. We pledge to increase the visibility and contribution of women leaders in public and professional forums.

We are proud to support gender diversity at every public forum and invite all Australian leaders to commit to the Panel Pledge. We hope you will join us!

Take the pledge, download the icon and proudly display your commitment to diversity in your organisation.

The attached resource provides ideas on how to extend the pledge to executive teams, include the pledge as part of sponsorship and supplier agreements, and how to run gender balanced conferences, from speakers all the way through to audience attendance.


Through advocacy, policy and research fellowships, WLIA is building a community of leaders focused on achieving equal numbers of women and men sharing power and influence in Australia.

We are committed to supporting a cohort of exceptional women to accelerate work, especially in the area of politics, business and the media, to elevate their voice and demonstrate what’s possible.


Our fellowships support women who are leaders in their respective fields, women who have innovative approaches and the courage, conviction and capacity to create real change.

Dr Ramona Vijeyarasa is the recipient of the 2020 Women’s Leadership Institute Australia Research Fellowship

Dr Ramona Vijeyarasa, recipient of the 2020 Women’s Leadership Institute Australia Research Fellowship