14 June 2023

Empowering Women in STEMM: Insights from the Women in STEMM Leadership Summit

by Sumesha Durais, Area Manager

Sarah and I attended a Women in STEMM Leadership Summit in March this year, which aims to equip emerging and established leaders with the tools and inspiration needed to become influential, visionary, and forward-thinking. Featuring accomplished women leaders from all STEMM sectors, insights offered valuable perspectives for attendees at all career stages. The conference was interactive, thought-provoking and inspiring, and I would like to share a few personal highlights from some of the speakers, including the real-time illustrative capture of the summit content.

Empowering Women in STEMM: Insights from the Women in STEMM Leadership Summit
Sarah Stante, NSW State Manager - CJC & CaSE, and Sumesha Durais, Area Manager, attended the Women in STEMM Leadership Summit held in Melbourne on the 21st and 22nd of March 2023.

Jane MacMaster from Engineers Australia shared her views on work-life integration, providing flexibility to employees while establishing personal boundaries within the workplace. She highlighted different arrangements implemented by employers and shed light on their effectiveness. This was followed by a mini masterclass on working women's guilt which focused on identifying our personal values.  When our personal values align with those of our workplaces, we are more likely to have a satisfying career.

Mahin Sonia (AWS), presented a masterclass on practical techniques for team motivation. Her expertise and authenticity resonated, addressing common challenges faced by female leaders in the industry. I found the following speakers enlightening even though their industries were not the same as mine:

  • Kerry Louise Philips, a longstanding Qantas pilot on overcoming double standards in the workplace.
  • Brenda Denbesten, from BHP, explained sponsors and their role in her career over the years.
  • Sonia Adams, GHD CCO, on “no straight lines from A to B” as she described the squiggle that was her career path.

The panel discussion on "The role of leadership in setting a healthy workplace culture that attracts female talent" featured leaders from Arup, Aurecon, GHD, and the National Breast Cancer Foundation. This session revealed that only 11.2% of working engineers in Australia are women, and that gender equity will drive better business performance. Sarah’s key take-outs included:

  • Make inclusion and cultural safety a real and visible organisational value
  • Increasing diversity and intersectional participation is everyone’s responsibility
  • Active listening as a leader to lived experience is a key indicator on the success of inclusion initiatives is within the teams

The two-day summit featured a range of engaging activities, including bite-size masterclasses, roundtable conversations, and thought-provoking "fireside" discussion panels presented by accomplished women in various STEMM disciplines. These speakers shared insights at different stages of their careers, offering valuable perspectives for attendees to consider. The summit was a great occasion for knowledge exchange and networking, inspiring participants to forge their paths toward success in STEMM fields.

The summit also featured interactive workshops on managing intimidation, understanding the impact of gender norms, and mentoring training, fostering a collaborative learning environment.

An illustrator captured the discussions and presentations in real-time, creating visual representations that served as valuable reminders of the event's content.

Sarah and I enjoyed the connectivity across STEMM sectors that the Women in STEMM Leadership Summit offered, and sharing the unique challenges faced in STEMM sectors. We now have some extra tools to build our leadership capabilities and ideas for increasing diversity in our business. To learn more about CJC's commitment to diversity and inclusion, read our blog post: CJC Wins Top Award for Diversity and Inclusion.

Other Articles