23 Super Women Leading STEM

Here's just a small group of 23 super women leading in their fields, breaking barriers & inspiring the next generation into STEM!

Dr. Jenine Beekhuyzen OAM

Futurist, diversity expert, researcher, & founder of the Tech Girls Movement Foundation

Jenine’s Tech Girls Movement Foundation programs & Tech Girls are superheroes books that inject creativity & imagination through development programs both online & in-person, to give girls aged 7-17 access to hands-on technology, STEM women mentors & an opportunity to experience leadership and build their skills and confidence. Over the past 7 years, Jenine & her team have engaged more than 10,000 schoolgirls in hands-on STEM entrepreneurship education.

Jenine’s recent book, 5 things You Can Do To Engage Girls in STEM is a comprehensive summary of the state of representation of girls & women in STEM in Australia in 2019 & provides a practical framework we can use to start changing the playing field. The 5 things we can do are described by Jenine’s model of AEIOU which stands for Autonomy, Ethos, Involvement, Otherness & Us-ness.

Jenine has overcome rough beginnings. Still troubled by doubts of not being good enough & learning about vulnerability, Jenine shows us how you can be good enough. Her motto is “it does not have to be perfect. 80% is good enough. Life is short so give it a go.”

Dr. Catherine Fargher

Creative writer, researcher, lecturer, & EdTech start-up founder & entrepreneur

An early pioneer integrating & innovating Science, Art & Education, Catherine’s colourful career is culminating with her start-up. EdTech Dr. Egg Adventure Lab, is a cross-curricular digital story world platform. Catherine is creating new, imaginative ways to teach and inspire Science in the classroom.

Dr. Catherine has a deeply rooted noble goal to produce work that leaves a legacy that improves humanity through creativity & imagination. Dr. Egg was hatched 7 years ago as a real-life stage play & has evolved through Catherine’s creative pursuits. Catherine’s PhD in creative writing explored the ethics of reproduction science by creating imaginative story worlds to inquire and inform adults and school-age children about the complex science of genetics and reproduction. Just imagine yourself or your grandmother sitting at home in a rocking chair with your knitting needles creating DNA strands. Looking and teaching science through Catherine’s lens of creative narrative and fable has been capturing the imagination of audiences through plays at Sydney Opera House and the USA and Canada. Today Dr. Egg Adventures is being developed as an online digital adventure story world to teach 7-11 year olds good science through fun imaginative characters and narrative, in conjunction with Macquarie University Education so it aligns with the school curriculum. This is a ground-breaking development integrating and synthesizing the "kooky" aspects of creative writing and the more logical subjects like Science.

Download free resources from Dr. Egg for teachers, students, and parents to support and nurture your young scientists. This creative teaching platform is a fun & inspiring way to attract more young girls to engage with Science & stay inspired to pursue careers in STEMM.

Dr Anne Forbes

Academic researcher, teacher, & advocate for girls and women in STEMM

Softly spoken and fiercely tenacious about her vision for science in schools, Anne is the coordinator of strategic STEM projects & senior lecturer of STEM education for primary & early childhood at Macquarie University. The workload balance between teaching, ever-increasing administration & research is stressful, but her passion to teach good science to teachers & students keeps her challenging the status quo in the system. By teaching teachers how to teach science in creative & engaging ways, where students "get their hands dirty": do their own data collection, analyse their own data sets of things instead of textbook or worksheet data, kids learn to construct good scientific questions and experimental methods.

Anne developed an accredited research informed mentoring program, MyScience that brings scientist mentors into schools and transforms the way kids see and experience Science.

Dr. Onisha Patel

Structural biologist, artist, & STEMM advocate at the Walter & Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research

Onisha’s passion outside of the lab is creating art from scientific data & campaigning for equality & intersectional collaboration and leadership in science.

What does art have to do with science and in particular structural biology, a study of the molecular structures of life at the nanoscale? As a structural biologist, Onisha looks at the structure and shape of protein molecules. When proteins don’t work properly, they can cause diseases. Understanding the shape of protein molecules can help design medicines to target them when they become faulty. Art is what got Onisha into science.

In academia, Onisha has been challenged to stand up to bullying 7 discrimination: "When you are an outcast in a "conformed" place you need to have a clear goal of getting a job done while fighting against the odds & constantly proving your worth.”

Onisha is a leading light on intersectional leadership. How do we create more visible opportunities for young women to explore their potential and become leaders in their chosen field? These are some of the hard questions Onisha has had the courage to ask and act toward finding answers.

Professor Xinhua Wu

Pro Vice-Chancellor (Precinct Partnerships) Monash University & Founder of AmPro Innovations

Xinhua Wu is a world-leading Materials Science Engineer committed to excellence who shares some of her career stories and her perspective on science, research, and how to encourage more women to choose STEMM careers.

Xinhua sticks to the facts and does the best work she possibly can. How to create an intentional influence of a quietly and deliberately spoken, facts-driven leader and how to get heard, understood, and respected are some of her leadership skills. In addition to her passion and determination, Xinhua makes sure she works in the top team and has team members who are like-minded and spirited in producing excellence for their industry partners.

Professor Julie Cairney

Acting Pro-Vice Chancellor of Engineering Sydney University & CEO Microscopy Australia

Julie’s career in engineering academia and industry is driven by her quest to find ways to do something that can change the world and have an impact. Julie was encouraged to do physics and maths at school, and was always interested in science and how to use science to achieve something and not just for the fundamentals of why an atom moves the way it does, but how engineering can make things better to have an impact in the world. Curiosity about metallurgical engineering as it sounded like fun led to her career decisions.

Engineering is not just about hard hats and mining although that is a fabulous profession. It's the curiosity and application of fundamental science that inspired Julie into a hybrid career of academic industry-led research and a leadership role as CEO of Microscopy Australia.

"Don’t be afraid to aspire to leadership roles. Let your managers and peers know so they think of you when these roles come up."

Professor Anna Paradowska

Industry Engagement Manager at ACNS, ANSTO & Conjoint Professor in Advanced Structural Materials at University of Sydney

Anna migrated to Australia from Poland to pursue her PhD in mechanical engineering. Being the only girl in many rooms in University Engineering classes never bothered her. She excels in finding ways to turn adversity into benefits.

Anna is dyslexic but chose to adapt her brain to want to find quick solutions instead of using her reading difficulty as a reason to quit. She was a good student but being dyslexic meant she never could be the best. She was just good. And Anna claims it allows her to fail and improve, fail, and improve and that has become her internal strength. Focusing on doing what she can to get the goals and choosing to have no fear of failure, she learnt where her niche is and has a thorough understanding of her strengths and weaknesses.

Anna is a self-confessed workaholic now redirecting some of that time and energy to her young family. She nourishes her natural aptitude for integrating and synthesising complex data sets and translating those into actions that create better, safer outcomes for people and our world.

Anna’s mother’s advice has guided her through the motherhood-career ambition push-pull that many women experience:

“Nobody unhappy can make anybody happy. So, make yourself happy and they will be happy around you. Think of you, what you want to do and share the love and passion that you have. Do what you want to do, and your children will grow with you.”

Anna finds reading challenging and whilst others may have used this as a reason to choose non-academic careers, by the age of 42 Anna has attained very high levels in academia in Engineering which continues to be a very male-dominated field.

Professor Didar Zowghi

Professor of Software Engineering, Deputy Dean of Graduate Research School, University of Technology

Didar has come through significant discrimination throughout her life & career which could have derailed her career at any stage. Despite this, Didar chooses to focus her energy on producing outcomes such as excellence in software engineering teaching, research collaborations and extensive mentoring.

A passion and single-mindedness for maths from a young age and curiosity to make and break things led Didar on the journey across 3 continents and 3 universities before settling for Computer Science and Software Engineering at UTS (University of Technology Sydney). Work ethics, focus, and determination with a deep and wide curiosity for purposeful research has paved the way for Didar's rich and colourful academic career. “Be useful and finish what you start.”

Didar investigates human centered software design and development. Her research is focused on improving software development processes and products by empowering and engaging software users effectively throughout the entire process. In particular, Didar’s research addresses issues in the communication-rich, multidisciplinary activities of software development known as requirements engineering. She is an expert in the "Evidenced Based" and “Design Science” research methods. She has conducted and supervised many empirical field studies in requirements engineering, collaborative and distributed software development, technology adoption and diffusion, mobile learning, data quality and digital transformation. She has published over 200 research articles, co-authored with 90+ researchers from 30+ different countries.

Dr Muneera Bano

Senior lecturer in software engineering Deakin University, Superstar of STEM, Winner Under-40 most influential Asian-Australian 2019

Muneera never had a female role model growing up, so she decided to be one.

“This is my biggest motivation: to be a role model for other girls and women by sharing my story. I made the decision to pursue a PhD and I kept reminding myself that I have to overcome the challenges to get the goal. The transformation of our personalities takes place while we struggle for our dreams. I'm the first one to break the concrete ceiling for all the women in our part of the world; to lead through example that it's not impossible.”

We learn about what is required in leadership and influence in AI and complex computer software engineering from our earlier stage leaders like Muneera by her far-reaching vision that drives her choices. While we look towards an advanced technological future with AI at the back, the digital divide of under-privileged and under-represented groups of people could increase substantially. More initiatives are needed now than ever before to ensure that the future belongs to all, regardless of their gender, race, identity, or socio-economic status. Muneera is continuously developing and expanding her own skills and effectiveness as she teaches and influences others about the nature and direction of software technology development.

Kathy Campbell

Director, Ockham Consulting, & experienced STEM NED Board member

Large scale business and digital IT transformation has as much to do with people as it does with software, hardware, and workflows. The psychology of human behaviour sits front and centre of everything we do in large scale transformation projects. Kathy pulls together the strategy, process, and people to achieve successful enterprise-level system change. She brings those soft skills and technical business management skills together to make organisations work better.

The lessons, insights, and perspective on people, business, and mindset over her career journey began with a country town, a family newspaper business, and an accounting degree. As a management consultant and board executive in Healthcare IT, medical research, and aged care industries, one of Kathy's consistent leadership skills is her ability to communicate across numerous disciplines, learning and absorbing complexity quickly. She then sets a vision and puts structures and processes in place to achieve the vision, so the team can focus on productivity and efficiency improvement and achieve meaningful outcomes that make a difference.

Susanne Moore

Director of Ambidio Consulting. Management Consultant & Creative Leadership Program Designer

The big messy expensive disruptive complex field of large-scale IT and business transformation & change management requires an equally complex & extensive skillset of leaders promising a better world for all; on the other side of the disruption and mayhem of the change process.

Mental toughness and mental sensitivity, strong directive communication and high levels of emotional and social intelligence are required to lead these extensive projects. Having both business and STEMM knowledge and skills is key to success in these big hairy audacious transformation projects. Susanne delivers on all these levels.

“I knew I was clever, & I was taught I could do anything I wanted to. It didn’t matter that I was female. I could just go out & get it. So that’s what I did. I couldn’t get a job, so I started my own company. I'm not just going to fix the problem I'm going to lead through the mass of fire and get to the other side.”

Philippa Lewis

Commercialization Director & Entrepreneur & Board member

Philippa is a powerhouse communicator and a mentor for the men and women striving for leadership and impact. Philippa leads by example and communicates compelling suggestions of how to get more women into STEMM leadership.

Philippa, a serial Biotech, healthcare, and aged care entrepreneur since the age of 18, has led a whirlwind journey through numerous business pursuits in healthcare and agent care technologies. Philippa is passionate about commerce and the purpose of engineering and technology to improve the health and well-being of the patient who receive it. She has led and influenced the business growth of numerous medical technology start-ups into multi-million-dollar global organisations. Philippa demonstrates the value of integrating and synthesising diversity of thinking and backgrounds in product design, development, and commercialization. She speaks with authority and conviction with a consistent focus on the horizon, the purpose, the focus on what is the impact of this engineering decision on the patient that will experience it.

Philippa dispels the myth that you need a STEMM education to be successful in a tech start-up. As founder & director of Elementum Advisory Group, today Philippa guides entrepreneurs & early-stage companies in medical technology, life sciences, healthcare, & aged care to become investor ready.

Dr Rosina McAlpine

CEO, Win Win Parenting

Rosina’s career began in academia where she spent 30 years teaching and publishing her research in international journals. Rosina was a prolific and highly awarded teacher and researcher but decided to leave her position as Associate Professor of Sydney University Business School after she discovered a significant gap in the quality of parenting support provided to employees in the workplace.

Rosina founded Win Win Parenting to provide practical research-based education programs for corporations to provide their employees with the knowledge and skills to better manage work and family life. This serves to improve their social corporate responsibility and directly benefits employees with families and company performance. It is well known that employee wellbeing and the stresses of family life carry over into the workplace, and if left unaddressed, they can result in absenteeism and lost productivity.

Rosina leads by example in how she translates the knowledge, the skills, and the value of her 30 years as a scholar into the exciting and unpredictable world of entrepreneurship. Win Win Parenting is a fantastic business that incorporates digital technology and specific solution-focused education which is delivered when it is needed and to those who need it the most, so that workplace culture and productivity is preserved and improved in addition to the individual wellbeing of the employees.

Dr Stephanie Lamont-Friedrich

Senior Advisor, Enterprise, Accelerating Business Growth, KPMG Australia

Stephanie is a new breed of scientist & business leader who is overcoming the angst of putting herself out there on social media & self-promotion. She knows if other girls can see her doing exciting and fun stuff at the bench, at conferences, and in professional committees, it will inspire some to consider this career path for themselves. Stephanie shows us exactly how the saying “to be it you must see it” translates through social media.

“Bold Steph needs to do this for scared Steph”.

Stephanie chose the route of industry after completing her PhD in Biomaterials, Engineering and Nanomedicine, securing a Graduate role with Deloitte in their R&D team after submission of her PhD thesis. Stephanie quickly progressed to Head of Life Sciences for SA and began working on R&D and Grant applications nationally, being a part of 11 Grant applications in just 12 months.

A year later and Stephanie was approached and offered a role as a Senior Advisor for KPMG, assisting Australia's most innovative companies to access government grants and incentives to support their growth and R&D activities. She loves the business of science and the question: what is made possible because of this research?

Stephanie is extremely grateful for the mentoring and coaching she has received through IMNIS, the Industry Mentoring Network in STEM founded by Dr Marguerite Evans-Galea AM. "It's not the translation of academia to the industry that's hard. It’s the communication of translation that is difficult."

Dr Jennifer Bourgeois

CEO Impact Beyond the Counter, Pharmacist Entrepreneur, Integrative Health Practitioner

Jennifer Bourgeois is leading the way for women pharmacists to craft a purpose-driven life and business as a pharmacist, entrepreneur, wife, and mother. STEMM trained healthcare professionals like Jennifer who communicate the science of medicine and the complexity of human behaviour are ideal transformation agents to lead and inspire positive behaviour change to create better health outcomes.

Like many women in STEMM Jennifer was not aware of the different career opportunities available to her. It was through finding and following a variety of mentors and coaches that she defined her true calling. Whilst she loves serving people behind the counter, Jennifer has developed a much bigger calling to teach and inspire health and wealth beyond the counter.

“Learning and practice create success. Look to your heart to see if this is something you enjoy and want to continue or let go and allow something else in.”

Jennifer struggled with doubt and questioning her purpose and calling. “Once you are clear on what and who you're called to be and where you're going, that is what gives me that confidence and it gives me such peace.”

Shannon Bumgarner

Integrated Supply Change Leader, Organisation Change Management, advocate for women in technical careers, Facilitator & Inspirer of Change

Shannon leads by example as a STEMM leader changing her current workplace culture whilst preparing to launch her consulting and advisory business. She is committed to achieving gender parity in Engineering, Manufacturing, and IT by 2040.

How does this dynamic Chemical Engineer and Corporate Procurement Leader work in the tough male-driven world of Manufacturing craft and express her unique leadership style and grow her career even though she rocks the boat and does not conform? She uses every STEMM skill, strategy, and process together with personal leadership and brand development coaching.

Shannon is also politically and culturally aware and highlights the need for emerging women leaders to network strategically and deliberately, find senior leaders who will not only mentor them but will advocate on their behalf, and the vital importance of forming collaborative collective leadership groups with other women inside and outside the organisation.

“Every STEMM woman deserves to live a life and career that inspires her. Cultural change starts with personal responsibility and personal change. I can use negative stereotype attitudes of others to create success and change for myself and others.”

Dr Jerrica Dodd

Pharmacist Coach, Speaker, PharmaSis magazine founder and editor

Dr Jerrica Dodd is a compelling leader and speaker.

Jerrica’s STEMM education including multiple Masters degrees and her deeply rooted calling to serve humanity has helped her overcome immense personal challenges in life and work. She has experienced a grueling corporate career in the Pharmaceutical industry and now inspires and facilitates leadership in entrepreneurship for Pharmacist women, pivoting in just 2 years.

Jerrica also provides a valuable service to patients and physicians as a patient advocate, helping individuals become leaders of their own health and wellness. Whilst many may have succumbed to the trauma and given up their ambition, while overcoming significant health challenges for both her parents and her own, Jerrica turned her adversity into opportunity.

Jerrica helps women pharmacists figure out “the how” in pivoting in their career and building their own business. This enables them to live a life they love. “When you love what you do, you're able to show up to shine, to give, to bless and to encourage. Be open to dream. If I help anyone else live what they consider a better life, then I have achieved success.”

Patti Pokorchak

Small Business Sales Coach

STEMM and Sales are words that are rarely found in close connection to each other. A game of golf played on a teletype terminal in 1971 made Patti switch her major from Accounting to Business Computing. This eventually led her to a sales career with IBM whereby at age 25 she made a lot of money, despite being thrown kicking and screaming into sales.

Realising that a corporate career did not feed her sense of purpose led her to an exciting life of adventure, travel, and entrepreneurship. A one-year trip to Europe ended being 9 years working at five tech start-ups. Today, Patti teaches entrepreneurs and students how to sell. She is passionate about helping STEMM women discover the fun and freedom of technical sales and marketing. Having a STEMM career does not mean you are stuck in a cubical.

Patti has been challenged with high anxiety since childhood. ”If I'm working in a place that does not makes me happy, I'm out of there. Learn about yourself, know what you are good at and do what you love. Design your career around these skills. If your job does not give you joy, do something else. Never stop learning.”

Dr Chara Reid-Reed

Founder of Pharmacist Women’s Network in Chicago, Director of Pharmacy

Chara is a gifted communicator. She shares her experiences to highlight changes that must happen for women in STEMM to have more impact, more equal opportunity to be seen, heard, and chosen. To support other African American Pharmacist women, Chara founded the Pharmacist Women Networking Association, running monthly dinner meetings and virtual meetings to create community, connection, and education.

Chara is passionate about education and the opportunities that afford and the cost of missing out. Her great-great grandfather was a slave, and her grandfather had 3rd grade education whilst Chara’s mother was the 18th of 19 children and the only one to go to college. Chara sees her role as a people leader is to work for her staff and to remove barriers so that they can take care of patients more seamlessly.

“I know that I can be good at whatever I decide to put my mind to. I see myself as a leader.”

Regardless of the barriers Chara has faced over the last 15 years forging her career in retail pharmacy and corporate roles, Chara speaks with compelling certainty about how she can make something better when it’s not done well. The impact of mentors in early life inspired Chara to be the leading light for change and championing the pay-it-forward philosophy in providing mentoring to women in Pharmacy and advocate for equal opportunity for all.

Carol Cox

CEO and founder of Speaking your Brand, women’s history academic, software coder, political analyst and entrepreneur

Carol has been driven to contribute from a very young age. A high achiever at school and in every endeavour she undertakes, she attributes her passion for speaking and influence to come from this inner drive to contribute. Today Carol leads purpose-driven women out of being lost in the crowd and puts them front and centre stage where they can share their message with powerful conviction to influence change in their chosen field.

Carol has founded 3 businesses, the current one being Speaking Your Brand, a coaching and training business for women entrepreneurs and professionals around creating their signature talk their signature message whether they want to speak at conferences, on webinars, do Ted talks as well as really position themselves as leaders as thought leaders in their industry and in their communities. Carol and her team help them find their voice and use their voice so that they can become leaders. Being shy as a teenager, Carol enjoyed the performance aspect of public speaking and debating because she could become a different character that then became part of her.

Brittany Hoffmann-Eubanks

CEO & Founder Banner Medical Communications, Expert medical writer, mentor and writing coach

Brittany Hoffmann-Eubanks shares her journey from Community Pharmacist to entrepreneur and business owner of Banner Medical LLC, where Brittany and her team of expert pharmacists make medical writing understandable and inspire change. Brittany has chosen to bet on herself and go after her own dreams betting on herself and her business.

“Sponsors and mentors and a community of like-minded women and people smarter and more successful than me help take out some of that imposter syndrome as well as make women feel more comfortable and confident to be able to go and do the things that they want to do and not feel like they have to hold themselves back. My mission in life is to improve that and help information be digestible and solve a problem. A good career and business coach helps me make better decisions faster, which has helped my business grow much faster with less stress.”

Adrienne McLean

Founder and CEO The Speakers Practice

Adrienne’s STEMM education as an organic chemist and early career in manufacturing quality management and team leadership enrich her toolkit as a business coach for small business owners and entrepreneurs. Putting her science and management skills together, Adrienne differentiates herself clearly by teaching process-driven measurable business development strategies to business owners.

Adrienne started off in a technical field and moved into a marketing & sales field meant she could utilise her STEMM skills in a different way. She is a people person and found it challenging to be in a laboratory or office all the time. Having a very people focused nature meant she wanted to be connecting with and speaking rather than in an office/laboratory environment. Executive meetings, training and mentoring meets her expectations and needs.

“Success is achieving your vision. It is a journey. I call it the entrepreneurial gene. I have it. I love creating things. I love building connections and building my business. I saw my parents do that. My father was in business for 44 years.”

Karen Powell

Founder, CEO and Coach for Kokoro

Karen and her sister Lesley founded their company Kokoro - A Matter of Choice to inspire women and young girls to be the best they can be. A passionate researcher, scholar, and practitioner herself, Karen demonstrates the value of evidence-based, data-driven problem-solving skills that underpin her coaching methods.

“Stand up for your rights as a woman. Don't apologise for who you are. Know who you are. Have a purpose because this stops you from meandering and wasting time and resources. Don’t disrespect other women. Be a role model for other women. Don’t compromise yourself. Don’t accept the biases and the prejudices of "how things are done around here" when they are wrong. They are not something to be coped with. They need to be tackled.”

With thanks - this post was written by Lia Zalums.