WITWA chair change

Marjolein Towler being presented gifts OF APPRECIATION by Pia Turcinov

Marjolein Towler being presented gifts OF APPRECIATION by Pia Turcinov

After 10 years as Chair of Women in Technology WA, Marjolein Towler is vacating the position to make place for joint Chairs Pia Turcinov and Daniela Mattheys. Pia will be in charge of the techtrails program, which, thanks to the Women in STEM & Entrepreneurship grant will expand to 8 metro and 2 regional events in 2017. Daniela will be the co-Chair of the networking and industry events.


WiTWA welcomes new Committee Members

WiTWA is delighted to welcome on board two new committee members, Anitra Robertson and Kay Hargreaves. Both ladies bring a wealth of expertise, experience and enthusiasm to WiTWA and we are privileged to have them on board.

Anitra is the Chief Operating Officer of Perth based medical technology company, Surgical Realities. Leveraging today's advancements in technology, Anitra has partnered with leading universities to establish evidence-based applications of virtual and augmented reality in medical training and patient care. Recently, Anitra established Smartbots, a non-medical arm of Surgical Realities and distributor of robotic technologies into education, aged care and retail.

Before launching Surgical Realities, Anitra managed change and communications projects with mining company Rio Tinto for 12 years. This included the introduction of autonomous trucks and drilling technology into Pilbara mining operations as part of Rio Tinto's Mine of the Future®.

With a double degree in Communications, Anitra is now finalising her post-graduate diploma in Science (Psychology) at the University of Western Australia.

Anitra will be taking on the role of Secretary for WiTWA.

Kay Hargreaves is the owner and Managing Director of Colleagues Information Solutions (CIS) which specialises in transforming the way organisations collect, manage, use and apply data.

She has over 30 years working and consulting experience in the digital data arena. She is passionate about technology and uses her natural enthusiasm for continuous improvement and her technical experience to help organisations gain a competitive advantage through innovation. Kay encourages people to question normality and promotes collaboration to generate new ideas that improve productivity and lead organisations towards high performance.

Kay will be undertaking the role of Volunteer Coordinator at WiTWA.

Feel free to reach out and meet Kay and Anitra at one of our exciting events in 2017. 

Annual ACS WA Diversity Dinner - We're Not All Ones & Zeros

The Australian Computer Society Diversity Dinner: #ACSNotBinary is an annual ACSW Gala event. The event is attended by around 100 guests from a range of sectors within the Tech industry and it is a chance to celebrate all that we are, in awesome company, over a delicious three course meal. This year the event will be held at Crown Perth on Friday the 18th November, 2016 from 6:30pm. The “We’re not all Ones and Zeros Diversity Dinner” is a great opportunity to showcase your brand to the wider Tech audience, particularly women in IT. Special guest speaker at this year's event is Fadzi Whande. Click here for further information and to secure your tickets

Fadzi Whande has just been awarded the International Racial Equity Leadership Award at the Courageous Conversations Summit in New Orleans. She was also part of the UN Women Australia delegation chosen to attend the 59th session of the Commission of the Status of Women (CSW) at UN Headquarters in New York. 


Women in STEM Roundtable Hosted by The Governor of WA

On Tuesday 11 October, 21 people attended the very first Women in STEM Roundtable Meeting and Morning Tea at Government House in Perth, hosted by Her Excellency the Hon Kerry Sanderson AO (Governor of Western Australia) upon the invitation of Professor Lyn Beazley (Science Ambassador, WA Australian of the Year 2015, Patron of WiTWA’s techtrails program).

The meeting was organised by WiTWA and attended by WiTWA Chair Marjolein Towler and was attended by representatives from a wide range of women organisations in the STEM areas (Engineering, Technology, Mining, Oil & Gas, Construction, Astronomy, Mathematics, Health Sciences, Robotics, Trades) augmented with community, government, business and university representation.

Its aim was to understand both the issues in this particular arena, and the programs and initiatives that are being undertaken by these organisations.

The Governor kindly agreed to host the event as she holds a special interest in STEM and wholeheartedly supports endeavours to increase the interest in STEM in young women, as well as increasing the number of women in leadership positions in our state.

The organisations represented all, in one way or another, are contributing in addressing the problem of the lack of diversity in STEM.  

The morning started off with an address by Her Excellency, and after that there was wide-ranging discussion on key issues in attracting girls and young women to careers in STEM and strategies for addressing these issues.

The discussion ranged from the “Empty Pipe” (girls not choosing to study or pursue Science and Tech), to the “Leaky Pipe” (women leaving careers in STEM throughout their careers), to the “Canary in the Mine” (isolated women and other minorities failing to thrive or worse in a toxic workplace), to the “Dripping Tap” (very few women being appointed to the top positions). It also touched on the unconscious bias that causes someone to say, “what is the problem” or “this diversity talk is all just a fad” or “men cannot be carers”.

Under the guiding hand of facilitator Helen Hardcastle, the discussion was championed by Professor Lyn Beazley.  Three clear areas of interest emerged from the debate:

  • The need to encourage STEM at a young age as well as keeping the interest alive so kids choose the relevant topics for study
  • The need for exemplar organisations with best practice in the area of diversity and equity in both pay and positions
  • The need to retain and sustain women in STEM industries (and elsewhere as this was considered a wider cultural issue)

Participants then shared examples of initiatives that are currently in place to encourage (and support) greater representation of women in STEM. 

WiTWA is very proud to have been able to bring this amazing group of people together. It was a most valuable experience to engage with others who are working to make a difference for women in STEM across academia, education, community, government, and industry sectors.

The conversation has been started and it was clear that everyone there wanted it to continue. It has therefor been decided to reconvene early next year to continue the conversation and to set some achievable goals for the near future.

STEM for Kimberley Girls

Broome Senior High School are looking for speakers at their upcoming STEM for Girls event. The event will be held in Broome on Friday 2 December 2016. Students will be broken into small groups which will rotate between speakers, allowing relaxed presentations and plenty of question time. If you can connect with young people and would like to help foster STEM aspirations in students of the Kimberley please get in touch. Speaker's flights and accommodation will be covered. For further details please contact Angela Sands on 0447 591 583 or angesands@yahoo.com.au.

WiTWA welcomes Anitra Robertson, COO Surgical Realities

We are delighted to announce the recent addition of Anitra Robertson to the WiTWA Committee. Anitra is the Chief Operating Officer of Perth based medical technology company, Surgical Realities. Leveraging today's advancements in technology, Anitra has partnered with leading universities to establish evidence-based applications of virtual and augmented reality in medical training and patient care.  Anitra has presented at international medical technology conferences on clinical research into virtual reality and pre-operative anxiety.

Recently, Anitra established Smartbots, a non-medical arm of Surgical Realities and distributor of robotic technologies into education, aged care and retail. Before launching Surgical Realities, Anitra managed change and communications projects with mining company Rio Tinto for 12 years. This included the introduction of autonomous trucks and drilling technology into Pilbara mining operations as part of Rio Tinto's Mine of the Future®. With a double degree in Communications, Anitra is now finalising her post-graduate diploma in Science (Psychology) at the University of Western Australia. 

For your chance to meet Anitra and get a glimpse of her fantastic technology, join us at our next WiTWA TECHXchange event at the Cheeky Sparrow on 19 October 2016. Further details can be found under our Events section.

WiTWA Techtrails at 2016 Perth Science Festival

On the glorious winter weekend of 13-14 August WiTWA brought its highly successful techtrails progam to the Perth Science Festival. techtrails is an initiative developed to cater for the growing needs for skilled workers for the STEM sectors. This unique incursion programme addresses in particular the lack of Generations Y and Z studying in this field, leading to a future shortage of suitably skilled individuals available in the Technology and Engineering workforce. It targets primarily public and independent public schools with a particular focus on schools that are regional or remotely located, have strong science and technology focus, or have little or no opportunity to present their students with career choices.

Our participation at Perth Science Festival as one of over 50 interactive stalls, in the Perth Cultural Centre marked a significant but highly successful departure from our usual engagement mechanism with secondary students in a school setting. Our interactive panel of over 25 prominent STEM professionals, across a range of industries demonstrated their work to students, their families and the wider community and highlighted the important role science, technology, engineering, mathematics and innovation play in modern workplaces and future career choices.

We had fabulous interactive sessions including presentations on drone technologies by Chris Leslie of Airscope Industries and Nick Sargeant of Global Unmanned Systems, who had the audience enthralled about the commercial applications of drones, and the possible careers that are opening up in this brand new industry sector. We also had brilliant presentations by Siobhan Stuart, the first female Marine Engineer in the Royal Australian Navy to work on the submarine fleet and her colleague Sean Dowling, who showcased some of the technologies and life support systems available in modern submarines.  

Abbey Potter an entomologist with the Department of Health, brought along a squadron of mosquitoes that the audience could inspect under a microscope drawing a combined sense of fascination and repulsion  from the audience about the environments, physiology and lifecycle of theses pesky  little kritters. Ella Ganfield was a big hit with some of our younger audience members showing off who to do robotics coding, whilst Dr Paola Magni provided some fascinating insights into forensics and crime scene investigations. 

Aggie, the art expert and robot tour guide with the Art Gallery of WA delighted the audience with some cool dance moves whilst the audience was able to interact with our speakers from a range of different disciplines and organisations including Microsoft, Google, Chevron Australia, the Harry Perkins institute, Curtin University, Milne Agri Group, BHP Billiton, Seven West Media and Murdoch University, to name but a few.

techtrails patron and former Chief Scientist of WA, Prof Lyn Beazley said that the program delivered as part of National Science Week, was a resounding success and provided many insights, fun and inspiration to the many people that came to our stall. We had some delicious brownies offered to everyone that came along, kindly made by the home economics students at Ashdale Secondary College with a sensational Nigella Lawson recipe. The whole weekend was captured on video, including speaker interviews and event highlights by the fantastic multimedia students from Ashdale SHS. Keep an eye out on our Techtrails page to view the video!

None of this would have been possible without the generous support of our event sponsors, the Department of Local government and Communities, UWA Faculty of Engineering and Mathematics, Kinetic IT, Scitech, Ashdale Secondary High School as well as our many fantastic presenters and contributors. A full list of supporters and well as more details about the techtrails program can be found on our webpage at http://www.witwa.org.au/techtrails/

For further enquiries relating to this article:

Daniela Mattheys
Media and Communications
WiTWA Executive Committee
Mobile 0434 609141

YFactor 2016 Survey - Can innovation work without women?

In many high-tech companies, women represent less than 10% of experts. While more innovation is required to address successfully the existing challenges, STEM sectors suffer from skill shortage worsened by the low proportion of women in these sectors. To ensure that tomorrow’s inventions and discoveries meet the needs of both women and men, we encourage you to participate in the 2016 Yfactor survey. The survey is open until the end of August, with results published in the fourth quarter of 2016. You can make the difference by expressing your viewpoint on topics that matter: Education, Employment, Innovation and Work Life Balance. 

Go to http://survey.yfactor.org/ and remember to make a note that you are part of the WiTWA network.

Expressions of interest: Are you passionate about technology and interested in joining the WiTWA Committee?

As the leading voice for women in technology in Western Australia, WiTWA is a Perth-based, volunteer run, not for profit organisation providing a framework for women in technology. We support women in technology to extend their network and expand their knowledge on a broad range of professional topics. We endorse open conversation and debate. We encourage women and young people to choose careers in science, technology, engineering and innovation. We also seek to raise the status of women in Australian business and in the technology industries.

Our Mission

Our mission is to encourage business change to accommodate diversity and provide a network of support for women in technology, science and innovation. Aside from events and advocating for greater diversity in technology and innovation, we also strive to inspire school students into technology careers through our techtrails school incursion program.

What we are seeking

We are calling for Expressions of interest for any women who are passionate about technology and diversity and would be keen to join our Committee to help shape and deliver our mission. EOIs close on 12 August 2016.

What is involved

There is some time commitment involved in the form of attendance and contributions to our monthly Committee meetings, strategic planning meetings and our regular WiTWA networking events.

Terms of appointment

  • Committee membership is an unpaid volunteer role.
  • The term of appointment is normally a period of two (2) years with an option of extension.
  • Appointments are made in accordance with the terms and conditions set out in the  WiTWA Constitution.

What we need from you

Please provide us with no more than a one page summary including:

  • A little bit about why you are interested in becoming part of the WiTWA Committee; and
  • Some information on your background, qualifications and experience and what you can bring to the WiTWA Committee.

For further information on WiTWA please read through our website at www.witwa.org.au or contact us at T +61 8 9417 3628 or E info@witwa.org.au.

Business leaders join forces to offer women financial power through knowledge

Three leading Perth business organisations have joined forces to launch a Financial Toolbox aimed at giving women greater financial knowledge and confidence. 

The announcement comes following the release of startling statistics showing WA women have barely more than half the superannuation savings of men, 60% of WA women retire with zero superannuation, women earn 25 per cent less than men and many WA women still lack financial confidence and skills to invest.1 

The American Chamber of Commerce, Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand and Australian Institute of Company Directors will present the Financial Toolbox series of interactive workshops tailored for women of all ages.
The aim of the workshops is to equip women with financial knowledge and skills to enable them to be independent and have freedom of choice throughout their lives. 

“There are many things women of any age can do to improve their financial position - it’s really never too early or too late to learn,” said Chartered Accountants WA Regional Council Chair Professor Glenda Scully. 
“If you know how to set a budget with clear goals, prepare for taxes, superannuation and insurances - you can put yourself in a far better position and manage your finances with more confidence and greater success.” 

AmCham Women in Leadership Committee Chair Professor Lyn Beazley said “The disparity in wealth between genders limits women’s life choices and makes many women in violent or abusive relationships financially vulnerable. This is a terrible position for anyone to be in, and we want to do something to change this."

“We also know that homelessness in older women has grown to epidemic proportions in recent years. Between 2011/12 and 14/15 the number of 55+ women accessing homelessness services increased by 30 per cent."
“This is happening because many women in their 50s and 60s spent years in non-paid work and now have far lower superannuation savings, lower home ownership, lower personal wealth and lower financial confidence."
"Even for those of us lucky enough to be in much happier circumstances, having a better understanding of our finances is of great benefit. It could mean a more secure future including the opportunity to give more back to the community," Professor Beazley said.

AICD WA Division Councillor Jane Cutler said “Between our three organisations we have access to some of the most expert and most generous financial and business professionals in the State.”

“We feel this is a vital opportunity for us to come together and use our strengths and expertise to help improve financial literacy for women across Western Australia.” 

The Financial Toolbox series will include six enjoyable, dynamic and interactive workshops, facilitated by some of Perth’s leading financial experts. 

The six workshops will include:
Part 1 Build Yourself Up

1.    Budgeting and forecasting (July 2016)
2.    Saving with Superannuation (September 2016)
3.    Get to know your taxes (November 2016)

Part 2 Protect Yourself

4.    Insurance (February 2017)
5.    Wills (March 2017)
6.    Life events (May 2017)

The Financial Toolbox series was launched at Parmelia Hilton Perth today at a breakfast with WA business doyen and Diane Smith Gander, Broadspectrum Chairman, who also spoke about how WA companies could respond to the evolving economy.

The workshops will be held centrally at the CAANZ and AICD training rooms in the city from 5.30-7.30pm, with a small fee to cover drinks and nibbles. All presenters are donating their time. 

To book any of the sessions go to website http://events.amcham.com.au/financialtoolbox/ 


Inspiring Entrepreneurship Luncheon 2016

24 June 2016 | Parmelia Hilton Perth
Celebrating women in enterprise

Book Here

Be inspired by three successful women entrepreneurs – Vanya Cullen from Cullen Wines, Sharon Grosser from Seqta Software and Louise Daw from MiPlan. Each of these women has followed their passions to build a successful business in WA.

Network and share stories with innovative businesswomen and businessmen as well as leaders from the public and community sectors.

Individual tickets and corporate tables are available – early bird ends Friday, 10 June 2016. There are some fantastic door prizes from sponsors Parmelia Hilton Perth and Kailis Pearls.

Sharon Grosser
Sharon Grosser co-founded SEQTA, an education software company, in 2006. A former secondary English teacher and self-confessed late adopter of technology, running a tech start-up was not something she ever thought she’d find herself doing.

Vanya Cullen
Vanya has transformed her family firm from one of Margaret River’s best into one of the country’s premium boutique wineries. Cullen Wines remains family owned and, through Vanya’s attention to detail, has evolved to incorporate certified biodynamic, carbon neutral and naturally powered principles. 

Louise Daw
Louise is an experienced IT professional and mother to two young girls. In 2010, Louise co-founded MiPlan, a software solutions provider focused on developing mobile operation management solutions. To date, MiPlan has enabled its clients to realise over $100m in productivity and cost savings and experienced rapid growth and demand year on year.

Promoting Gender Equity in Science and Technology

National Foundation for Australian Women are hosting an event on the evening of Tuesday 7 June 2016 to promote gender equity in Science and Technology,

Guest Speakers

Prof. Cobie Rudd (Deputy Vice-Chancellor - Strategic Partnerships Edith Cowan University, ECU) to speak about  ECU's strategies to promote more diversity in science research, in particular ECU's involvement in the National ATHENA SWAN Pilot program;

Ms Marjolein Towler (Chair of Women in Technology WA, WiTWA) to speak about WiTWA's Techtrail program, a STEM career incursion into WA high schools encouraging students to consider STEM careers.

Deloitte WA are proud to host this event in their Perth City offices. Refreshments will be provided. Male champions welcome too.

Register for the event

RSVP before 2 June 2016. 


Inaugural WiTWA Female CIO Leaders Forum hits high notes for Women in Senior IT leadership

Women in Technology WA (WiTWA), in conjunction with host and event partners KPMG, recently hosted the inaugural Female CIOs and IT leaders Forum – “The Changing Face of Technology”.

Why a CIO event

The concept of the Forum was borne out of an identified need by women in IT leadership roles in Western Australia for robust discussions, effective networking and information sharing mechanisms particularly focused at senior female IT professionals.


It is well-known that despite a gradual rise in the number of female role models in leadership positions in the technology sector, the industry still struggles to attract women into IT and technology careers. IT is still largely perceived as a “geeky” male industry and just 28% of employees in the sector are female. In leadership positions this discrepancy is even greater, with only 14% of CIOs being female. The reasons for this are multifaceted and complex.

Over 75 female CIO’s, CTO’s, Chief Digital Officers and IT Project Managers from a diverse range of industries and government came together on 23 March 2016 and shared their experiences around working in the IT and digital sector. Topics of discussion included the unique challenges faced by senior female IT professionals, the availability of qualified female candidates for senior IT leadership roles, entrenched gender bias and other drivers for lack of women in IT leadership roles, the value of female mentorship, the role of Corporates and government in addressing gender balance in the IT sector, and the importance of male leaders in the IT diversity conversation.


James Edwards, Partner in Perth’s KPMG R&D practice kicked off proceedings by providing insights into KPMG and how it is looking at the way in which technology is changing the marketplace. Some examples of their internal new ventures include Formula 1 and Barclay’s venture on Data Analytics; KPMG Marketplace platform to enable broader productivity; the SR7 Social Media management platform; cybersecurity and applications of new technologies.

WiTWA was then delighted to welcome three fabulous female CIO’s to present and participate in an interactive audience panel discussion. Sara Braund, VP and CIO of Woodside Energy, Elizabeth Wilson, CIO of Edith Cowan University and Linda Pyrc, Manager of the Perron Group IT Division, which includes Toyota WA, shared their experiences and insights into their career journeys, the unique challenges faced in the industry and how women can actively position themselves to secure leadership roles within the IT and digital sector.

Sara shared her very personal career journey and her “Strategies for succeeding” as a female IT leader. She noted that her career path was fairly linear in that she had been in IT and Oil and Gas all of her life, but that this was perhaps a little atypical for many of the women in the industry which often have very diverse professional backgrounds.

Sara was originally recruited by a female IT leader, but has not had a female leader since.  As a result she spends conscious time networking with and mentoring women. Sara also stressed the importance of harnessing the power of networking.

The key is in building strong relationships and wide networks and to never underestimate the relationships you build – both internal and external to the organisation. In this context it is important to make sure you have the male sponsorship and the right balance of female networks.

Sh e encouraged the audience to not be afraid to “take the opportunities that are presented to you” and to be vocal and forthright, The value we bring is that  a woman’s thinking style is different to men, which adds a unique perspective to any discussion or decision making process. Sara concluded by saying that it is ok if your career does not take a linear approach and encouraged the audience to not be disheartened about sometimes taking a step backwards as this can lead to unexpected opportunities.

Elizabeth Wilson opened her presentation by echoing Sara’s comments and encouraged participants to “not close yourself off to opportunities”. She then proceeded to present an overview of some fascinating research into women in leadership roles. Research highlights the strong economic reason for women to be in business as there is a proportionate correlation between the number of women in an organisation and an increase in ROI.

She stressed that as we move into a digital era we need to use a Digital Leadership Model, which is more collaborative , enables a more responsive approach to meeting the customer’s wants/needs, and empowers the workforce to deliver.


Digital business requires more agility, therefore less hierarchy and less structure to respond to changing organisational needs.

Elizabeth also shared some insight from the  Study on Women are Better Leaders 2014 which shows that out of 16 categories needed for good leadership women were stronger in all but 2. Taking the initiative, drive for results, display of high integrity and honesty and the practice of self-development are competencies in which females ranked particularly highly.

The study also showed that for women life does begin at 40 as far as their career is concerned, as women continually self-learn and seek feedback, therefore making them much better leaders after the age of 40.

However the research also shows unconscious bias is alive and well and poses an ongoing challenge, particularly for women in senior IT leadership roles and more work need to be done in this space.

Rounding out the morning’s event Sara and Elizabeth were joined by Linda Pyrc for an engaging  panel discussion. Linda shared that she too had had very few female mentors throughout her career, but did have access to very supportive male mentors with the world of IT changing and opening up many more opportunities for women.

Crucial elements that came out of the discussion included the strength of women in driving better executive reporting, demonstrating the value in commercial terms and the ability to build trust and confidence, making it easier to have difficult conversations.  In terms of career progression it is important for women to look for the synergies within the business and to make sure that they truly understand the work levels required and educate themselves accordingly, or alternatively identify what other opportunities there may be to progress learning. It is important to look for opportunities and grow knowledge.

In conclusion it was agreed that workforce diversity is crucial and to maximise outcomes organisations need to transition from a traditional hierarchical to flat collaborative environment by bringing IT into decision-making processes across all aspects of the organisation. This involves a cultural change, which takes effort. The good news is that women are particularly good at driving this change as they often take a more holistic view.

“The interest in this Forum far exceeded our expectations and we have just scratched the surface on the discussion around issues facing women in senior IT roles” stated WiTWA Committee member and event coordinator Daniela Mattheys. There is clearly much more debate to be had on this important topic and as such we are planning to hold the second Forum in this series later this year. We would like to hear from anyone who may have suggestions around a specific topic and/or speakers to continue this important discussion.

WiTWA would like to extend its sincerest thanks to all of our event partners, sponsors and speakers, in particular our event host and partner KPMG, the State government Department of Local Government and Communities Women’s Interests Portfolio, Kinetic IT, People Bank and the UWA Faculty of Engineering, Computing and Mathematics.

For any queries, suggestions or to offer your support please contact:

Daniela Mattheys

Mobile 0434 609141


Opportunities for women in STEM

Opportunities for women in STEM

The Australia Government is investing $13 million over five years, as part of its National Innovation and Science agenda,  to encourage more women to choose and stay in STEM research, related careers, startups and entrepreneurial firms. They are supporting the expansion of the Science in Australia Gender Equity pilot to cover more Australian science and research institutions

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