We fund evidence-based research that offers new insights into the experiences of female leaders and progresses our understanding of how to achieve equal voice, equal representation and equal recognition. What are the knowledge and data gaps? What are the causal factors? What measures can be identified to close the gap? Through exploring these areas with expert academics and researchers, we hope to find new ways to address the issues faced, especially in politics, business and the media.
Women for Media - Take the Next Steps Report
We are delighted to share this significant report: ‘Take the Next Steps’ – the fifth and most comprehensive report in our Women for Media series.
Led by journalist and academic Dr Jenna Price with Dr Blair Williams the report explores the role of female voices in Australian news, those quoted in news stories, and those who wrote the stories.
The 2021 report combines quantitative and qualitative analysis of more than 60,000 articles across the month of May 2021, plus in-depth interviews with leading figures in the media landscape. Media icon and business leader, Ita Buttrose, was interviewed for the report and made a comment on the need to ‘take the next steps,’ from which this report takes its name.
The report includes two sets of data: Big Picture and Top Billing. Big Picture was an examination of online news articles published in the month of May - a huge sample of more than 57,000 articles. Top Billing was a smaller sample of nearly 4000 articles appearing on page one of print publications or on the main section of the publication’s home page.
What women write about is gendered. Topics most likely to be reported on by women include health (53%) and entertainment (44%). What men write about is also gendered, and the topics that are “men’s topics” include politics (65%) and sports (87%). 'Men are entitled to have an opinion about everything' - of all opinion pieces published in the month of May, men wrote 65 per cent of them.
“While the findings of this 2021 report demonstrate that we still have quite a way to go, I am buoyed by a shift in attitude and commitment from Australian media management. Almost everyone interviewed agreed that diversity and gender equality in our news coverage is important to address – especially when considering the purpose of our media and the role it has in fairly representing and supporting Australian people now, and into the future. Many are now trialling ways to tackle this, and learning from positive progress elsewhere.” WLIA Founding Chair, Carol Schwartz AO
Click for key findings and to read the full report, including interviews with media management.
Resources for gaining a greater understanding of the challenges we face, and proposing solutions.
Through advocacy, policy and research fellowships, we are building a community of leaders focused on achieving equal numbers of women and men sharing power and influence in Australia, especially in politics, business and the media.
We are supporting this cohort of exceptional women to accelerate their work, elevate their voice and demonstrate what’s possible. These women are leaders in their respective fields with innovative approaches and the courage, conviction and capacity to create real change.
Current and past fellowship recipients include:
Dr Anjalee de Silva is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Melbourne Law School node of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Automated Decision-Making and Society. Anjalee is an expert in administrative, anti-discrimination, and free speech and media law and theory, with a focus on harmful speech and its regulation, particularly in online contexts.
In particular, her work examines vilification or ‘hate speech’ directed at and about women, as well as the role of law in deterring, regulating, and mitigating the harms of such speech. Anjalee has also held the roles of Honorary Fellow and Teaching Fellow at Melbourne Law School. She holds a Bachelor of Laws with first class honours and a Bachelor of Arts (Media and Communications) from the University of Melbourne.
Outside academia, Anjalee is a local government Councillor on Monash City Council, where she also serves on the Gender Equity Advisory Committee.
"Hate speech against women silences women by preventing them from speaking, marginalising and devaluing their speech, and building structural constraints impeding their speech. If democratic legitimacy rests on equality of opportunity to participate in democratic processes, hate speech against women represents a crisis of democracy itself. The law plays a crucial role in responding to and mitigating some of these harms, and I’m honoured to have the support of the WLIA to continue my work in this area."
Dr Anjalee de Silva
Dr Elise Stephenson is a multi award-winning gender researcher with an entrepreneurial background. She is Research Fellow at the Global Institute for Women's Leadership, Australian National University and her work focuses on intervening at critical junctures to be at the forefront of projects on gender, sexuality and leadership.
As a political scientist and international relations scholar, Elise focuses on research in frontier international affairs, from researching space policy, to politics and government, diplomacy, national security, intelligence, and the Asia Pacific. In addition to her research, she is the curator of multiple women's and youth leadership and entrepreneurship programs across Southeast Asia, including the Australia-ASEAN Council's flagship program, the Australia-ASEAN Emerging Leaders Program.
Elise was recently awarded the 2022 Fulbright Scholarship funded by Monash University for her research on diversity in space, and her book The Face of the Nation: Women in International Affairs will be published with Oxford University Press.
"My work seeks to find critical junctures where we can intervene to ensure gender equality in some of the grand challenges we are facing as a society – whether that’s around climate action, space exploration, our international affairs, or something else. Given gender inequality is reinforced by many systems, at many levels, and is entwined with things like colonisation and racism, homophobia and other forms of inequality, our solutions require holistic and multi-pronged effort.
"I am thrilled to be a WLIA Fellow, to both support and be supported by initiatives provoking systemic changes to policy, industry, government and ultimately society. It is through this network of individuals and institutions across Australia (and our world) that we can keep pressure on to create the kind of society where all thrive."
Dr Elise Stephenson
Emma Dawson is Executive Director of public policy think tank Per Capita. Emma has published reports, articles and opinion pieces on a wide range of public policy issues, and is the co-author of Per Capita’s landmark report Measure for Measure: Gender Equality in Australia, and co-editor, with Professor Janet McCalman, of the collection of essays What happens next? Reconstructing Australia after COVID-19, published by Melbourne University Press in September 2020.
She is a regular contributor to The Age and SMH and Guardian Australia, is a frequent guest on various ABC radio programs nationally, and an occasional panelist on The Drum on ABC TV. She appears regularly as an expert witness before parliamentary inquiries and often speaks at public events and conferences in Australia and internationally.
She has worked as a researcher at Monash University and the University of Melbourne; in policy and public affairs for SBS and Telstra, and as a senior policy adviser in the Rudd and Gillard Governments. She joined the Board of Australia21 in 2021 and is a Fellow of the Women’s Leadership Institute of Australia.
"I am honoured to receive the support of the Women’s Leadership Institute of Australia and the Trawalla Foundation and delighted to join such an esteemed group of women leaders in the fellowship program. WLIA models a style of leadership that promotes cooperation and collaboration among women from diverse backgrounds and professional roles. The fellowship will support my ongoing work to improve Australia’s performance against global gender equity measures, and to develop the necessary tools and processes to enable government, industry and civil society organisations to apply a gender lens to their policies and practice."
Ramona Vijeyarasa is the Chief Investigator behind the Gender Legislative Index, a tool designed to promote laws that advance women’s rights and gender equality. Ramona has made a notable scholarly contribution to the research fields of international women’s rights law, quantification for human rights accountability and women’s leadership and the law. Her current research focuses on strengthening accountability for women’s rights at the domestic level across diverse and often over-looked areas of law. It particularly seeks to advance the gender responsiveness of domestic legislation by providing benchmarks for the drafting of new laws and for evaluating existing ones based on global human rights commitments.
A Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Law at the University of Technology Sydney where she is also the Juris Doctor Program Head, Ramona has a decade of experience working in civil society as a women’s rights activist.
In 2022, Ramona received the 2022 Woman in Artificial Intelligence Award for the Law Category and was named 2nd runner-up as the Women in AI Innovator of the Year. This accolade joins grants and awards from New York University, the Australian Academy of the Social Sciences, the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Letten Foundation and Young Academy of Norway.
Her latest book, The Woman President: Leadership, Law and Legacy for Women Based on Experiences from South and Southeast Asia was published by Oxford University Press in July 2022.
"I envisage a world where women enjoy equal participation in society as men and benefit equally from that participation. I specifically seek to use the law as a tool to correct historical discrimination suffered by different groups of marginalised women and to help advance women and their enjoyment of their rights. My research is anchored around the concept of gender-responsive legislation, the achievement of which I believe can realise staggering results for women in Australia and globally. With the help of data science, I have developed an online tool called the Gender Legislative Index (GLI) which helps analyse laws according to their benefit to women.”
Dr Ramona Vijeyarasa
Danielle Wood is CEO of Grattan Institute. At Grattan, Danielle heads a team of leading policy thinkers, researching and advocating policy to improve the lives of Australians.
Danielle has published extensively on economic reform priorities, budgets, tax reform, generational inequality, and reforming political institutions. A major focus on her research is the economic benefits of enabling greater women’s workforce participation, including through improving the accessibility and affordability of early childhood education and paid parental leave.
Danielle previously worked at the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, NERA Economic Consulting, and the Productivity Commission.
Danielle is the President and Honorary Fellow of the Economic Society of Australia, and is the first woman to lead the organisation in its 96 year history. Danielle is a passionate advocate for women in economics and was the co-founder and first Chair of the Women in Economics Network. She is also member of Women for Progress, a diverse group of women that advocates for better policies for women and girls.
"I'm honoured to receive this support from the Women’s Leadership Institute Australia and the Trawalla Foundation. I share the values of the Foundation and very much look forward to working together to generate positive policy change for Australian women."
Leonora Risse is a Women’s Leadership Institute Australia Fellow and spent time in residence at Harvard University as a Research Fellow with the Women and Public Policy Program in the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. Her areas of expertise extend to labour economics, demographic economics, economic psychology, disadvantage and wellbeing.
Leonora is a co-founder of the Women in Economics Network and currently serves as the WEN National Chair. Leonora’s research focuses on understanding gender differences in economic opportunities and outcomes, encompassing such issues as the gender pay gap, women’s under-representation in leadership, and the influence of societal norms.
She is a Senior Lecturer in Economics at RMIT University.
“For many women, leadership is not about power or authority. It’s about recognising a societal need where you can make a difference and realising a vision for change. WLIA has played a proactive role in providing opportunities for women with vision to bring that vision to life, to use their capabilities to make a difference, and contribute to creating a more equitable society. Receiving the honour and support of a WLIA Fellowship will enable me to pursue these initiatives and contribute to our ongoing pursuit of achieving a more gender equitable and inclusive society. It is especially exciting to embark on plans to create a Gender Equality Evidence Hub that collects the findings of academic research and translates this knowledge into practical strategies which everyday organisations and governments can put into action.”
Dr Leonora Risse
Andrea Carson is a political scientist and an Associate Professor (Journalism) in the department of Politics, Media and Philosophy at La Trobe University, Melbourne. Her research focuses on gender, politics and the media. She has authored numerous books and articles on Australian politics, election campaigns and female representation in politics.
She was recently award Australian Research Council (2020) funding to study the pathways to politics for women in local government. Andrea is an inaugural council member of the Victorian Government’s Equal Workplace Advisory Council that advises government on achieving gender equity in the workplace. She is co-editor and author of Australian Politics in the Twenty-First Century (Cambridge University Press).
Prior to academia, Andrea was a professional journalist at The Age and ABC. She founded the 2022 election podcast ‘Below The Line’ with The Conversation and is a regular expert commentator in the media.
“The time for gender equality is long overdue. Without gender equity, Australia is lacking the first-class leaders and diverse perspectives that are hallmarks of strong, robust democracies. I am delighted to undertake a Fellowship with the Women's Leadership Institute Australia who are working hard to improve Australia’s gender equality rankings by profiling cutting-edge research and raising awareness about the important role Australian female leadership plays in advancing Australia’s prospects in a globalised world.”
Dr Andrea Carson
Isabelle founded Grata Fund, Australia’s first specialist non-profit strategic litigation incubator and funder to unlock the power of the law to fight systemic injustice. Based at UNSW, Grata has supported communities to bring litigation to force corporate accountability on climate change, expose abuse in offshore refugee detention centres, and establish legal rights to humane housing in remote First Nations communities; and has facilitated over $1M in philanthropic case funding.
Isabelle has worked as a solicitor at Clayton Utz in Sydney, where she specialised in corporate law and was deeply involved in their pro bono program. Isabelle's work included supporting Aboriginal people and communities in the East Kimberley to secure compensation for decades of stolen wages, and supporting survivors of trafficking and sexual servitude and family violence to secure compensation in New South Wales.
Isabelle was previously Director of Legal and Governance at GetUp and has served as board member for the Immigration Advice and Rights Centre in Sydney. Isabelle is a Churchill Fellow and in 2017 spent her Fellowship conducting field research into strategic litigation finance and strategy in the UK, Europe and USA in order to inform Grata Fund's strategy.
She holds a Bachelor of Laws (Honours) / Bachelor of Science (Psychology) from the Australian National University, where she was awarded the Dean's Certificate Prize for the Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition.
"It is an incredible honour to be supported by a WLIA Fellowship. I am delighted as it provides both an invaluable opportunity to connect with and learn from women who are leaders of their respective and varied fields, while also enabling me to continue to pursue Grata Fund's mission to support people and communities to hold governments and corporate leaders accountable through strategic litigation."
Cordelia Fine is a Professor in the School of Historical & Philosophical Studies at the University of Melbourne. Her work analyses scientific and popular biological explanations of behavioural sex differences and workplace gender inequalities, explores the effects of gender-related attitudes and biases on judgements and decision-making, and contributes to debates about workplace gender equality.
She is the author of Delusions of Gender (a Guardian and London Evening Standard Book of the Year, a Washington Post Best Non-Fiction Book of the Year pick) and Testosterone Rex (winner of the Royal Society Science Book prize).
Cordelia was also the recipient of the 2018 Edinburgh Medal, for her work in challenging gender bias in science and for her contributions to public debates about gender equality.
Cordelia writes regularly for the popular media on the topic of gender, including for the New York Times, Financial Times, Guardian, Scientific American and Wall Street Journal.
“The rich, stable cultural inheritance that enables us to be so adaptably diverse as a species is also, ironically, a counterweight to change. Rearranging gender constructions involves the reconstruction of the social structures, values, norms, expectations, schemas, and beliefs – the kind of work, in fact, that the Women’s Leadership Institute Australia and many other organizations do, day-in, day-out – that penetrate our minds, biology, interactions, and institutions.”
Prof Cordelia Fine
WLIA’s previous scholarship program
From 2010-2015, Women’s Leadership Institute Australia partnered with Chief Executive Women to award two full scholarships to exceptional Australian women leaders to the Women’s Leadership Forum at Harvard Business School. One scholarship was awarded to a woman in the corporate sector and the second scholarship to a woman working in the government or not-for-profit sectors.
Harvard Women's Leadership Forum Scholarship Recipients
2015 Kate Gunn, Chief Operating Officer, ARC Centre of Excellence for All-Sky Astrophysics (CAASTRO), University of Sydney
2015 Julie Shuttleworth, General Manager (Solomon Mine), Fortescue Metals Group
2014 Brigadier Alison Creagh (Australian Defence Force) and Kate Munnings (Transfield)
2013 Jill Charker (ComSuper) and Katie Cooper (Northern Territory Airports)
2012 Suzanne Dvorak (Save the Children) and Dr Bronwyn Evans (Cochlear)
2011 Christine Holgate (Blackmores)