For those of you who know me in the real, you'd know who I am, where I'm at, and my take on girls in the world.
You'd also know that as a Mum to four awesome daughters, princess-ery, damsel in distress-ery, Barbie-ery, anti-STEM-ery, chattel-ry, tradition-ery and any sniff of 'gender disablement' is disallowed in our casa.
Because truth be told, we don't do a lot of weeping, sweeping or role keeping in this house.
This is because the gender of my offspring has never been a determinant of their capabilities, possibilities and opportunities. My daughters are humans in the world, and frankly, the world awaits their (hopefully awesome) human doings. #watchthisspace!
Except for the small fact, of course, that the world that awaits them has a forcefield of cultural, institutional and organisational gender barriers that will close many doors before my girls can step through them and test their worth.
And except, of course, that only 1 in 4 IT graduates and 1 in 10 engineering graduates are women.
And except, even after all these years, it looks like we've still got a long way to go, babies, before diversity, parity and gender equality is anywhere near reached in the boardrooms, businesses and backwaters of this country.
Last month’s Australian Government Workplace Gender Equality Report threw up some startling stats worth ogling:
- The full-time average hourly earnings for women are 13.9% less than men’s full-time average hourly earnings.
- The gender pay gap in ASX 200 organisations is 28.7%.
- Average graduate salaries for women are 9.4% less than for men of equal qualification and experience.
- Average superannuation balances for women at retirement are 52.8% less than those for men.
- One-quarter (25.1%) of Agency reporting organisations have no key management personnel who are women.
- Women hold 14.2% of chair positions, 23.6% of directorships, and represent just 15.4% of CEOs in Agency reporting organisations.
I could go on. But you get the drift.
Clearly, there’s some serious work to do.
Closing the gender gap, enabling workplace diversity, changing organisational culture and cultivating a new tribe of female leaders is going to take a seismic generational shift. And this change won’t happen unless change happens.
So we’ve been working on it.
This year, at the University of Melbourne's Wade Institute, alongside my Co-Founder and fellow Master of Entrepreneurship colleague Edwina Kolomanski, we’ve been quietly understanding and building out an ecosystem to ensure girls in the world get what they need to step into the future.
It’s called GirledWorld.
And what we do is inspire, empower, educate and activate girls to help them build their futures by giving them real world experiences, events and education about STEM, startups and stepping up, create opportunities inside startups alongside leading entrepreneurs, and immerse girls in business so they can learn as they go.
This is stuff that schools can't teach.
And it's what will take today's girls into an uncertain future equipped with the mindsets, skill-sets, tech-cred and personal capabilities to make a disproportionate difference to the world.
With innovation, entrepreneurship, diversity and female leadership firmly on the agenda right now, we think it’s time to build the future for girls from the bottom up. And that for Australia’s startup ecosystem to reach its future full potential, today's girls need to lean in, step up and make tomorrow's mark.
So we’ve partnered with some of Melbourne’s leading female business people, business organisations and startup co-work spaces including One Roof Women, Collective Campus and depo8, who are all working with us to connect and prepare the next generation of female entrepreneurs via event series, work experience placements, experiential learning opportunities, mini internships and tertiary and startup pathway programs.
Supporting accelerators and incubators including LaunchVic, Startup Victoria, MAP, the Wade Institute of Entrepreneurship and the University of Melbourne, we are partnering with businesses big and small and working to make Victoria the destination for entrepreneurial cultivation, opportunity creation and a new generation of female leaders.
All of this, we think, will start to shape the change we need to see.
Because girls can't be what they can't see.
Our mission is simple.
- Get girls to step up into STEM and entrepreneurship by building connections with professional mentors, career advisors, leading universities and educational institutions.
- Educate, inspire and encourage girls and women to participate in startups, entrepreneurial activities and innovation career pathways
- Offer experiential learning opportunities, mentoring events and innovation education to girls and women to increase participation of girls and women in the innovation ecosystem
- Cultivate female leadership capabilities for application in key industry, business and government sectors through mentoring, education and events
- Build a value-creating network of experienced female business mentors who will work with us to inspire, connect and prepare the next generation of female leaders and entrepreneurs
If you'd like to join our partnerships and pathways program or register to be part of our summer 2017 cohort please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org
The future starts here.
A University of Melbourne Wade Institute startup, boldly changing the world, one girl at a time.