Women's Week 2021: Be inspired by women who are leading the way

4 min read

Women's Week 2021: Be inspired by women who are leading the way

Women's Week 2021: Be inspired by women who are leading the way

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 NSWMinister 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.

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?
Krystaal Hinds
Deputy Group Officer, Rural Fire Service


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 Beder2020 NSW Young Woman of the Year. Since starting a career in the tech space as a computer scientistHannah was confronted with the inequality and gender disparity in the technology industryOne 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.” 

Also on the panel was 2020 NSW Young Woman of the Year FinalistJulia 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 AustraliansAfter 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 Juliawho 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. 

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.
Julia Weber
2020 NSW Young Woman of the Year, Finalist


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.