For Women’s Week 2021 and International Women’s Day, Sydney School of Entrepreneurship partnered with Women NSW to host and livestream a panel session, at The Exchange in Dubbo, highlighting how women are “leading in times of change and challenge”.
We heard inspiring stories from our prominent panellists, The Hon. Bronnie Taylor MLC, Minister for Mental Health, Regional Youth and Women, Hannah Beder (2020 NSW Young Woman of the Year winner), Julia Weber (2020 NSW Young Woman of the Year finalist) and Krystaal Hinds (2020 NSW Regional Woman of the Year winner).
Drawing on their personal experiences, the panellists shared insights about how they continue to overcome challenges and create impact in their respective (traditionally male-dominated) industries.
The Hon. Bronnie Taylor MLC, Minister for Mental Health, Regional Youth and Women, launched the panel session by detailing how she has always been passionate about advocating for others in her career as a nurse, but it wasn’t until another woman tapped her on the shoulder that she began to consider a career in politics.
Speaking about her experiences in both regional and metro NSW, Minister Taylor said that when she moved to the country, she noticed a disparity between the care that her patients received in comparison to the care that was delivered in Sydney and felt that it was extremely unfair and wrong.
“I was struggling with the fact that women would elect to have radical surgeries rather than breast-conserving surgeries due to the fact they would have to travel and the lack of resources,” Minister Taylor said.
Now, as the NSW Minister for Mental Health, Regional Youth and Women, Minister Taylor is working to create a greater support network for women as well as provide more work opportunities for youth in regional NSW.
Throughout the panel conversation, we heard from 2020 NSW Regional Woman of the Year, Krystaal Hinds. Krystaal’s upward trajectory in her career in the Rural Fire Services started after the bushfires became dramatically personal for her. In 2013, Krystaal’s husband suffered burns whilst fighting a grass fire near her home.
Learning from this experience, Krystaal saw an opportunity to improve things for the frontline Volunteer Rural Fire Services personnel and stepped up and put herself out there to make those changes.
Her biggest hurdle was that there was no one to guide her through this journey.
Krystaal Hinds Deputy Group Officer, Rural Fire Service
I think a lot of those challenges that I’m facing is because I’m female and there hasn’t been someone else in that position for me to go to and say, ‘How did you deal with that?
Starting as a volunteer 22 years ago with the local RFS in Gunning NSW, Krystaal worked her way to becoming a Captain for seven years, before being promoted to Deputy Group Officer three years ago.
Her focus has been on getting more women into the Brigade, and since becoming Captain, female participation has increased by 30%.
Also, on the panel was Hannah Beder, 2020 NSW Young Woman of the Year. Since starting a career in the tech space as a computer scientist, Hannah was confronted with the inequality and gender disparity in the technology industry. One of Hannah’s goals is to motivate more women to consider technology careers as a pathway for them and shine a light on how they can thrive in this sector.
“We’ve seen a shift in interest for women in tech as it’s a lucrative and entrepreneurial career to pursue,” Hannah says. She found that “there’s a lot of interest in tech but not a lot of support.”
In her role as Technology Lead at Creatable, Hannah combines her passion for programming and education, by developing and teaching technical projects for high school girls to apply STEM skills in real-world contexts.
She continues to teach and mentor girls with Code like a Girl, UNSW and Girl’s Program network STEM, and is optimistic about the next generation of women in this industry.
“If I had done what they’re doing at their age, who knows where I’d be now. It makes me really hopeful for the future they have these incredible ideas and learn the skills to enact them, and then decide whether or not it’s for them.”
Women's Week 2021: In conversation with Hannah Beder and Julia Weber
Hi I’m Hannah
Hi I’m Julia
And we’re here with the Sydney School of Entrepreneurship
At Taronga Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo
We’re here with SSE and we had an amazing panel event this morning where we heard some really interesting questions and really interesting answers, from Julia and myself, the Honourable Bronnie Taylor and Krystaal Hinds.
It’s great to be here in Dubbo to celebrate World Women’s week and we enjoyed our questions so much this morning that we thought we’d ask each other a few more – let’s pull some from the cup.
How can people better support women as allies?
That’s a really interesting question. I think sometimes when we ask people to support as allies they become a little defensive. They think well why should I give my time to you? Whats so special, what’s so hard? I think a general interest in women’s lives can really help bring that understanding to the table. So if you want to be a better ally, listen to the people around you who are having a hard time. Listen to them talk about their problems, listen to them talk about their experiences, and the rest will come naturally. I don’t think we can force people to support something that they don’t believe in but at fifty-one percent of the population, it’s highly likely you’ve got female friends, you might have a female partner, you’ve got female family members. And it’s important to listen to their experiences because there are certain things that will effect women in way that might not even register for others.
That’s exactly right – and it’s not about supporting, going to speaking to every woman all over the globe. It can start in your own household and you can start to build awareness from there and start to speak to other people and that circle of influence can spread wider and wider before you even realise it.
What does international women’s day mean to you?
I love this question Hannah. International Women’s Day is one of my favourite days of the year, because it is the perfect day to be inspired. You actually have to conscientiously go out of your way to not be inspired on International Women’s Day because there is just so much going on and so many amazing women being profiled and it’s an amazing opportunity to find yourself in someone who inspires you. It’s a day where everyone can be accountable for how women are treated and for their journey to success.
I think that International Women’s Day is a perfect opportunity to pause and reflect, which women are often so pressed to do. We’ll go, go, go, go. And we’ll achieve so much but not spend any time pausing to reflect and celebrate. And like Julia said, it’s such an amazing opportunity to hear about other stories and their journeys and it’s hard not to be inspired. So every year when this rolls around, I meet amazing new people, I hear wonderful stories of the hard work and bravery and courage that women are exhibiting all over Australia and beyond and it’s just the most fantastic day.
Describe the three skills or characteristics that have contributed to your success.
It’s kind of hard to distil just three – and I don’t mean to toot my own horn there, I just think that what makes a person who they are is quite a complex thing. If I had to distill it into three, I’d say grit, ah empathy, and resilience. And I think grit is basically the ability to continue on with something, a long term goal in the face of adversity, in the face of hardship, in the face of failure, obstacles. It’s a really hard one to learn and that is definitely a learned skill for me. Whereas I think that empathy is something was innate to me but I’ve really put some time and energy into honing it to feel like a trusted person to those I’m teaching and to be empathetic towards myself on a learning journey – don’t let that critical voice come in and then resilience in the face of adversity as a minority in my industry, as somebody who’s not, doesn’t have a natural affinity for tech to be honest, it’s something that you come up against this obstacle and you go yep, it’s okay. It’s okay to fail. You don’t have to be perfect all the time and that’s what’s really led me to succeeding in my industry.
And I think that’s what allows you to succeed in friendships as well, I can say from personal experience. So thank you for bringing those characteristics to our friendship, I’ll be forever grateful.
Thank you so much to Taronga Western Plains for having us, it was fantastic to see all of your animals and we’re really grateful for your hospitality.
Absolutely. Happy Women’s Week everyone!
Also on the panel was 2020 NSW Young Woman of the Year Finalist, Julia Weber. Julia shared with the audience how her advocacy work started out of adversity, having experienced cyberbullying as a teenager. She recounted how she “grew up with the internet and we had a falling out and I was horrifically cyberbullied to the point that I didn’t feel I was worth the air I was breathing.”
She says that after this experience, she wouldn’t want her best friend, her cousin or anyone to go through that so with the support of her family behind her, she challenged the bullying head-on and wrote a self-help book for teenage girls going through similar experiences.
Julia explained that the “key to that was resilience and teaching self-care, and ‘Why don’t you put yourself first for a second? And that way you know things will just bounce off you.”
Drawing on her early experiences, Julia’s work today is centred around building financial literacy and budgetary confidence for all Australians. After becoming independent while at university, she realised that she didn’t know how to file a tax return or write a budget.
For Julia, this was a frustrating realisation, “I had all these skills from my HSC but no real-world backing for my financial future.”
This sparked another fire for Julia, who then moved into a business and commerce degree at the University of Newcastle. Julia wrote financial literacy content and travelled to high schools across the state to prepare young people on how to be financially literate.
Julia Weber 2020 NSW Young Woman of the Year, Finalist
“It doesn’t matter what issues you’re passionate about, because you evolve as a person and the issues can be what’s in front of you”.
While each panellist shared their personal challenges, they also offered some challenges that we can all rise to:
- Be your own cheerleader
- Step up to the plate and support those who are stepping up
- Take an interest in people around you, foster relationships and invest in your friends.
As this year’s Women’s Week comes to a close what will you act on for the rest of the year? And how can you stay motivated to follow through each day?
Watch our full panel session to get practical advice and be inspired to take action today.