Senior female leadership program designed to improve equal representation within the C-suite in STEM

STEM is one of the fastest growing and highest paying fields to work in Australia, yet women still make up only 16% of the workforce in Australia and 3% of industry executives or CEOs. That’s what led women leaders to set up a program designed to help improve gender parity representation at the C-suite level — and unsurprisingly, 2022 participants were oversubscribed by five times the possible intake.

“There is still a lot of work to be done to change the STEM industry and we won’t stop until 50% of the STEM workforce is female. It’s programs like WILD that s ‘work to change the gender disparity that exists and prepare women for board positions where change is likely to occur,’ says Dr Bronwyn Evans AM, CEO, Engineers Australia and Board Member WILD Advisory.

“STEM experts really have an important role to play in shaping Australia’s future and women have a unique perspective that they can bring to the industry. As leaders, we now have the opportunity to bring the best and brightest women onto boards and into companies and the WILD program is working towards that.

Thanks to over $1 million from the Prime Minister’s and Cabinet Office for Women, the founders of the WILD program, together with Brandon BioCatalyst, formerly the Medical Research Commercialization Fund (MRCF), were able to launch the 2022 program to support women in STEM.

Liz Williams, co-founder, director and CEO of start-up Hemideina, a company developing a new hearing aid for the treatment of disabling hearing loss, was shortlisted. Dr. Williams hopes the program will increase the credibility of women in STEM leadership roles through the formal qualification the program offers. Hemideina is a women-led company, employing 8 people.

“Working in a male-dominated space presented us with several challenges and manifested throughout our investment journey,” Dr. Williams said. “Women have to work much harder than men to prove their credentials, abilities and investment opportunity. More rigorous criteria are applied, and this is simply not the case. Having the opportunity to build trust and credibility through the WILD program will hopefully help in this process and provide an opportunity to hear from like-minded women who have had similar experiences.

“Often a woman’s ability is discredited because of her gender alone. The value of having women in both leadership and board-level positions, who can bring a unique perspective to organizational challenges, has yet to be realized. »

Fellow 2022 attendee and senior civil engineer at Aurecon, Emily Harris acknowledges that there are issues in the industry to have role models for women in STEM.

“One of the issues women face in STEM is the lack of female role models in leadership positions for those new to the industry to look up to,” Emily said. “Although the industry is changing, women should still seek out these role models as they are usually not easily identifiable.”

“It’s exciting to be a part of the WILD 2022 program as it gives us the opportunity to rub shoulders with like-minded, ambitious women and we will collectively be part of the change to tip the gender balance in the right direction towards the women in STEM leadership.”


The WILD program was founded by three women under 40 with PhDs: Dr. Nadine Brew (Portfolio Manager, Brandon Capital), Dr. Lauren Giorgio (COO, GPN Vaccines) and Dr. Udani Reets (Director of Partnerships, Peter MacCallum Cancer Center). With first-hand experience in the sector, their own experiences highlighted the need for an initiative to help develop the next generation of female leaders in STEM.

It consists of three parts: completing recognized governance training, an executive leadership retreat, and participating in board meetings of a STEM-related company, to gain mentorship and first-hand experience in a senior management framework.

Dr Chris Nave, CEO of Brandon BioCatalyst, Director of the Australian Investment Council and champion of industry change, stresses the importance of programs such as WILD: “Through initiatives such as the WILD program, we are expanding the pool of talented, experienced and accredited people. women leaders available for senior management and board positions. Now is the time for companies to champion diversity in leadership by recruiting and promoting women in STEM in their key decision-making groups. »

WILD 2022 Participants

  • Dr Alison Thistlethwaite, Operations Manager, MecRx Pty Ltd
  • Allira Hudson-Gofers, Practice Group Leader – ICT Engineering and Patents. Spruson and Ferguson
  • Dr Amanda Buttery, National Clinical Evidence Lead, National Heart Foundation of Australia
  • Dr. Angie Montgomery, Director and Founder, Cortext and Incheq
  • Anne Conlon, Senior Development Manager, Sita Aerospace
  • Anita Govender, Engineering Manager, UGL Limited
  • Associate Professor Branwen Morgan, Head of Mission, CSIRO
  • Claire Rosenberg, Senior Manager, Global Supply Chain and Digital Transformation, The LEGO Group
  • Dr Elise Needham, Associate Director, Biopharmaceuticals, Product Stewardship Operations, Boehringer Ingelheim
  • Emily Harris, Principal Civil Engineer, Aurecon
  • Emma Lucia, Deputy Director, Development (STEM). Monash University
  • Hannah Crowther, Deputy Director of Transportation, Kellogg, Brown and Root (KBR) Engineering
  • Dr. Kate Porter, Chief Operating Officer (COO), Crux Biolabs
  • Kathryn Jowett, Senior Business Performance Manager, AusNet Services – Mondo
  • Krystel Boland, Practice Leader, Senior Experience Designer and Management Consultant, Pragma Partners
  • Dr. Liz Dallimore, President and CEO, Argenica Therapeutics
  • Dr Liz Williams, Chief Executive Officer, Hemideina Pty Ltd
  • Dr Marguerite Evans-Galea Executive Director of IMNIS, Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering
  • Dr Megan Astle, Associate Director, MRFF and Major Initiatives, University of Melbourne
  • Dr. Pandora Patterson, Executive Director – Research, Policy and Patient Programs, Canteen
  • Dr Patricia Vietheer, Director – R&D Strategy and Planning, Biointelect Pty Ltd
  • Susan Lloyd, Design Coordinator – Civil and Environmental Engineer, Kellogg, Brown and Root (KBR) Engineering
  • Dr Tamsin Terry, Director, Commercialization – Life Sciences, UniQuest Pty Ltd
  • Dr. Tich-Lam Nguyen, Chief Operating Officer, ARC Center of Excellence on Future Low Power Electronic Technologies (FLEET)
  • Vanessa Waddell, Commercial Operations and Business Development Manager, PolyActiva PTY, Ltd

About WILD

The Women in Leadership Development program was developed for STEM women, by STEM women. It is led by three women under the age of 40, with PhDs, under the guidance of a high-level advisory group. The WILD program addresses common barriers to career progression and retention in the sector faced by Australian women employed in the STEM sector, and provides women in the STEM sector with the qualifications, skills, confidence and the networks needed to advance to leadership and board positions.

For more information about WILD, visit

Kevin E. Boling