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:
Cordelia Fine is a Canadian-born British philosopher, psychologist and writer.
She is a Full Professor of History and Philosophy of Science at The University of Melbourne, Australia. Fine has written three popular science books on the topics of social cognition, neuroscience, and the popular myths of sex differences.
Her book Testosterone Rex won the Royal Society Science Book Prize, 2017. She has authored several academic book chapters and numerous academic publications. Fine is also noted for coining the term 'neurosexism'. As a science communicator, Fine has given many public and keynote lectures across the education, business, academic and public sectors.
Fine has also written for the New York Times, Scientific American, New Scientist, The Psychologist, The Guardian, and The Monthly, among others, and has reviewed books for the Financial Times and the Wall Street Journal In April 2018 Cordelia Fine was awarded the Edinburgh Medal. This medal is awarded to "men and women of science and technology whose professional achievements are judged to have made a significant contribution to the understanding and well-being of humanity.
"When the environment makes gender salient, there is a ripple effect on the mind. We start to think of ourselves in terms of our gender, and stereotypes and social expectations become more prominent in the mind. This can change self-perception, alter interests, debilitate or enhance ability, and trigger unintentional discrimination. In other words, the social context influences who you are, how you think and what you do.”
Prof Cordelia Fine
Danielle Wood, CEO Grattan Institute is the recipient of our latest Research Fellowship with the support of the Trawalla Foundation.
Danielle researches economic and social policy. Her next report for the Grattan Institute will focus on female workforce participation. Removing disincentives for women to participate in paid work is one of the big opportunities to boost economic growth and improve equality of opportunity, status, and financial security for Australian women.
Danielle is Chair and co-founder of the Women in Economics Network, which seeks to promote and support the contributions of female economists in Australia. She has recently been elected as President of the Economic Society of Australia and will be the first woman to occupy the role in the Society’s 94-year history.
"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."
Dr Ramona Vijeyarasa is the recipient of the 2020 Women’s Leadership Institute Australia Research Fellowship, with the support of the Trawalla Foundation.
Dr Ramona Vijeyarasa is a Chancellor's Post-Doctoral Research Fellow in the Faculty of Law at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS). Her research is focused on gender and human rights, with a particular interest in strengthening accountability for women’s rights at the domestic level. Dr Vijeyarasa’s research seeks to offer a tangible contribution by using the law for the eradication of gender inequality and responds to the fact that despite significant well-intended interventions in the pursuit of gender equality worldwide, progress has been slow and incremental.
Dr Vijeyarasa said of her mission and research:
"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
Dr Leonora Risse is a Lecturer in Economics at RMIT University whose research focuses on gender gaps in economic outcomes and opportunities, including understanding the role of gender biases and social norms in explaining gender pay gaps and women’s under-representation in leadership.
Bringing a strong policy orientation to her research activities, Leonora’s projects include initiatives to convert research insights on gender equality into practical action. This includes developing ways to more effectively communicate evidence-based policy solutions to businesses, and consulting with government and industry to apply a gender lens to policy design. Her research extends into the economics of diversity, wellbeing and disadvantage, and creating educational resources to promote gender equality and inclusion within the field of economics.
Leonora holds a PhD in Economics from the University of Queensland and gained public policy experience as a Senior Research Economist with the Australian Government Productivity Commission. She is a Research Fellow with the Women and Public Policy Program at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, and a co-founder of the Women in Economics Network in Australia, currently serving as National Chair. She is also an affiliate with the Life Course Centre, GenVic and the National Foundation for Australian Women.
“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 Risee
Isabelle Reinecke is the Executive Director and Founder of Grata Fund and is passionate about unlocking the power of the law to fight systemic injustice and empower communities into the future.
Isabelle is a 2021 Women's Leadership Institute of Australia (WLIA) Fellow, awarded to women "who are leaders in their respective fields, women who have innovative approaches and the courage, conviction and capacity to create real change".
She 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. During university at the ANU, Isabelle worked at the Aboriginal Legal Service in Canberra, the Commonwealth Attorney General's Department and as a research assistant for the Centre for International and Public Law.
In 2015, she was nominated for a Walkley Award for Coverage of Indigenous Affairs and was a finalist in the United Nations of Australia Media Peace Awards for the Promotion of Indigenous Recognition Award for her work with Miriuwung Marda-Marda Steve Kinnane and lawyer Judy Harrison on stolen wages.
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 WILA 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."
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 and was recently award Australian Research Council (2020) funding to study the pathways to politics for Australian 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. Prior to academia, Andrea was a professional journalist at The Age and ABC. In her current role she appears regularly as a ‘News Therapy’ guest on ABC Drive (Melbourne) with Rafael Epstein.
Currently Andrea is working in three major research areas to investigate obstacles to gender parity that cover: local political representation; measures to rectify the underrepresentation of women in federal politics, and the economic inequalities women face in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The first is an ARC four-year project with colleagues at the University of Melbourne and the Victorian Local Governance Association to understand why women are under-represented at local government level. Women in Local Government: Understanding their Political Trajectories will enable us to help the VLGA work towards the State Government’s goal of achieving gender parity in local government by 2025.
The second project (with support from WLIA) works to understand resistance to gender quotas as a measure to increase female political representation. This study, titled Using experiments to understand Australian voters’ attitudes to female political representation and gender quotas aims to examine if voter attitudes towards gender quotas in politics are fixed or conditional and, if so, under what circumstances.
With a backdrop of a series of sexual misconduct and gender abuse revelations in the Australian federal parliament, this study uses
innovative survey experiments to understand if the events of 2021 can shift voters’ views to accept the need for gender quotas in the Australian federal parliament to improve female representation.
The third project uses repeated surveys to understand the economic, workplace and home impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on Australian and American women. The comparative study since the beginning of the pandemic has so far identified a she-cession in the USA and Australia, and especially Victoria. The first report, Worsening of Australian Women’s Experiences under COVID-19: A Crisis for Victoria’s Future makes recommendations on how that can be mitigated through public policy measures; the third tranche of this research begins in June 2021.
“In 2021 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 with funding from Trawalla Foundation 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,” said Dr Andrea Carson.
Dr Andrea Carson
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)