International Women's Day 2022
The theme for this years’ International Women’s Day is #BreakTheBias. Imagine a gender-equal world. A world free of bias, stereotypes and discrimination. A world that’s diverse, equitable, and inclusive. A world where difference is valued and celebrated.
Together, we can create that world.
This year, we’re launching our inaugural list of So Perth’s 20 Most Inspirational Women. An annual list celebrating some of Perth’s game changers, role models, and women to watch.
We’re partnering with Dress For Success Perth to help drive their Empower Hour campaign which calls on the community to donate one hour of your pay to ‘pay it forward’ to a vulnerable WA woman who is on the path to transforming her life.
20 Most Inspirational Women
In celebration of International Women’s Day and as a step towards helping to #breakthebias, we asked you, our readers, which Perth women inspire you the most. Through those answers, you’ve introduced us to so many current and future leaders who are doing amazing things.
From your suggestions, we’ve put together the inaugural ‘So Perth’s Most Inspirational Women‘ list. Scroll down to see the list!
And in the theme of inspiration, we’re also asking you to tell your story about IWD, breaking the bias, and the women who inspire you the most. If you’d like to submit your story, follow the link below.
People & Culture Manager, Globe 24-7
Still relatively early in her career, Rhiannon Compton is someone who has achieved more than most of us do in a lifetime. By day, she leads the people and culture function of a global HR recruitment and consulting firm. By night, she spends most of her time giving back to the community through her volunteering and mentoring activities.
Through Rhiannon’s role as People and Culture Manager, she has spent the last 18 months transforming the company’s culture into one that is constantly seeking opportunities to give back to the community. This has been realised through partnerships with Dress For Success Perth, Down Syndrome WA, Ronald McDonald House Charities, and MSWA to name a few. Most recently, Rhiannon has led Globe 24-7 to be endorsed by Work180 as a company that is committed to raising workplace standards for women. As a testament to her workplace efforts, Globe 24-7 also boasts a majority female senior leadership team which is almost unheard of in the resources sector.
Creating a world that is equitable is something she is very passionate about. This has led to her regularly being invited to speak on the topic of gender equality and diversity, equity, and inclusion from organisations such as UN Women. She also holds volunteer roles with organisations such as the United Nations Association of Australia, as well as mentoring the next generation of change-makers.
Co-founder & CEO, Canva
If you’ve had any sort of brush with design, you’ve touched on Canva before.
A revolutionary online design and publishing tool, Canva has been on a steady rise up since its launch in August 2013 and is continuing to help people create picture-perfect designs and marketing materials.
One of the faces behind it all? Melanie Perkins. She’s a Perth-born, Australian technology entrepreneur who is the co-founder and CEO of Canva. She also founded Fusion Books, an online design system for schools to create their yearbooks that has now become the largest yearbook publisher in Australia.
She’s one of the youngest female CEOs of a tech unicorn (private company valued at over $1 billion), but even so, she still manages to remain humble and give back by committing 30% of the equity from Canva to charities and making a positive impact in the world.
Dawn is a Wadandi woman of the Noongar Nation who has dedicated most of her life to improving support for vulnerable children, youth, families and communities in a career spanning over 40 years.
She has been CEO of the Yorganop Association since 1997 and a strong advocate for Aboriginal children and families at local, state, national and international forums. Dawn served as a board member for SNAICC for over 20 years and was a founding member of the Nyoongar Outreach Service and the Noongar Child Protection Council.
In 2018, she was the recipient of the Community Services Excellence Award for ‘Excellence in Leadership’. She’s also been inducted into the WA Women’s Hall of Fame along with being a finalist for the Aboriginal Award in the 2019 West Australian of the Year Awards.
Co-Founder & Chairperson, Dress For Success Perth
A working mother of two school aged children, Rachael understands the challenges faced by women in the workplace and securing employment – which is why she co-founded Ready to Work, now Dress for Success Perth.
She is extremely passionate about advancing the status of disadvantaged women in Western Australia and has now developed and secured funding for a 3-Step Program to Financial Independence which assisted over 1,500 women to secure employment.
On top of this, she’s also Executive Director of MRM Secure Investments Pty Ltd and a qualified Certified Practising Accountant (CPA) with over 20 years’ experience in the corporate sector. She has been recognised for her charitable efforts as a 40 Under 40 Award winner and a recipient of the UWA Business School-AIM Alliance Sir Frank Ledger Advanced Management Program (AMP) scholarship and AICD Company Director Course scholarship.
Founder, Working Spirit
Karyn is a military veteran with 25 years’ of service in the Australian Army and the Royal Australian Air Force.
After her years of experience, she discovered a passion for helping men and women in service who were struggling to adjust back into society – and with that, Working Spirit was born. Her not-for-profit based business aims to raise awareness of veteran employability to businesses while also helping pave employment pathways for veterans and supporting female veterans thrive through employment post-service.
CEO, Generation One at Minderoo Foundation
Shelley is a Nyoongar woman passionate about Indigenous business, economic empowerment and financial inclusion. She is a promoter for Indigenous leadership and putting an end to economic disparity.
She is currently the Chief Executive of Generation One, supporting and securing employment outcomes for Indigenous Australians as well as advocacy for employment and social policy reform as part of the Minderoo Foundation.
Shelley is building an impressive list of accomplishments at a young age as a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, a member of the Murdoch University Vice Chancellor’s Strategic Advisory Board, and a board director of Indigenous Finance and Business Indigenous Corporation. She’s also been a finalist in the 2017 and 2018 Western Australian of the Year Awards and the first Indigenous person to be accepted into the Shell Graduate Program.
Melissa is the current Chief Executive Officer of Communicare with an impressive professional career spanning 20 years.
She’s a strong advocate for the inclusion and safety of individuals, families and communities and is an influential figure in the WA community services sector. She has been a pushing force for reform and increasing awareness to drive social change and achieve sustainable outcomes.
Prior to her current role, she was the state director of WA for Mission Australia and the Executive Director for Centrecare from 2002 to 2011 consulting as an Executive to the WA Ministerial Council for Suicide Prevention. Melissa is also an active participant on several boards and an academic whizz holding a Bachelor of Social Work and undertaking further studies. Basically, she’s an absolute gun.
Dr Nikki Stamp
Dr. Nikki Stamp is a trained cardiothoracic surgeon, author, TV presenter and teacher of medical students and surgical trainees. Is there anything this woman can’t do?
Nikki is a strong supporter of women in surgery and all other careers with a passion for changing the way we think about health and helping women improve their heart health. She was chosen as one of ‘40 under 40’ for Time Out Sydney, as well as one of Mamamia’s Inspirational Women You Can Look Up To and 2017 Women of the Year in Harpers Bazaar.
To say her list of achievements is impressive is an understatement. She holds a Bachelor of Surgery and Bachelor of Medicine with Honors, a Fellowship of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons in cardiothoracic surgery, and is a PhD candidate at Curtin University.
Madison De Rozario
Perth-born and raised, Paralympic champion Madison De Rozario is the perfect example of never letting anything get in your way.
She was just four years old when she suffered a bout of the flu and developed a rare autoimmune disease, transverse myelitis, that left her paraplegic. But that hasn’t stopped her from becoming one of the most inspiring athletes ever.
After an impressive series of gold medal performances in 2018 and 2019, she is one of the most promising young athletes in wheelchair racing. She became the first Australian to win the elite women’s wheelchair race at the London Marathon and a Paralympic champion after winning the first gold medal for the Australian Athletics Team in the women’s 800m T53.
She has competed at the 2008 Beijing, 2012 London, 2016 Rio, and 2020 Tokyo Summer Paralympics, winning two gold medals, three silver, and a bronze.
CEO, Fortescue Future Industries
Julie is CEO of Fortescue Future Industries – a company focused on developing renewable energy resources and green hydrogen – and Deputy CEO of Fortescue Metals Group.
She’s a woman making her mark in the resources sector with 27 years’ of experience and is now focused on leading the global energy transition by producing zero-emission green hydrogen from 100 percent renewable sources.
Julie is a Chartered Professional and Fellow of the Australian Institute of Mining & Metallurgy, a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, a Member of Chief Executive Women, a Member of the Institution of Engineers Australia, and a Member of the Society of Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration. She’s got several Diplomas in Financial Services and Management as well as a double major in Extractive Metallurgy and Chemistry and a whole number of awards to her name. Talk about success!
Dr Katharine Giles
Managing Director & CEO, OncoRes Medical
Talk about a woman kicking ass in the medical world.
Dr Katharine Giles has had quite an impressive journey from investment manager at Brandon Capital Partners to becoming director and CEO of OncoRes Medical – an intraoperative imaging tool that translates the surgeon’s sense of touch into a microscale image, improving surgical accuracy and reducing complication rates.
She’s also a director of Respirion Pharmaceuticals and a member of the Curtin Commercialisation Advisory Board in addition to practicing as a medical doctor within the surgery field.
Katharine holds a Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (Honours) from the University of Western Australia and an MBA (Dean’s Honours list) from the University of Western Australia, so colour us impressed.
Elizabeth Knight is a 23-year-old entrepreneur on a mission to transform our education system for the better.
She is the founder of Purposeful, an ed-tech startup helping young people find their place in the world and careers they are passionate about. Through their purpose and self-discovery programs and The Lost Button podcast, Purposeful has worked with more than 8,000 students since its opening in 2019.
Elizabeth is a passionate member, advocate, and founder in the startup ecosystem here in Australia, having previously been a Director at Bloom, WA’s youth entrepreneurship hub helping young founders to start their own businesses. More recently, she co-founded a second business called Next Revolution, an education and consulting company solving complex problems with simple no code solutions.
When she’s not working on her businesses, she’s busy being a Taylor Swift superfan. She is also a TEDx presenter, a Fogarty Foundation Scholar, and in 2019, was a recipient of the Boston Consulting Group Scholarship.
Head of Social, So Media Group
A marketing professional with a flair for all things digital and content-related, Carma is the quintessential social media nerd and loves nothing more than researching and exploring the infinite possibilities of social media marketing to connect people across ideological and geographical divides.
To say she’s an inspiration in the marketing world is an understatement, and her passion for giving back to the industry and providing support to recent graduates navigating the workforce is just one of the many reasons she’s incredible at what she does.
She is currently Head of Social at So Media Group (how lucky are we), a Sessional Academic at ECU and a member of the Australian Marketing Institute Committee where she works to contribute to the evolution of marketing and advocate for the establishment of industry standards similar to which other services are bound.
Dr Jemma Green
Co-Founder & Executive Chairperson, Powerledger
Dr Jemma Green is your go-to person on matters of cities, energy and transport in Western Australia and Co-Founder and Chairman of Powerledger – a tech company that uses blockchain for energy and environmental commodity trading in a mission to create markets that remove the obstacles to 24/7 renewable energy.
She is dedicated to creating a viable market for renewable energy that empowers consumers after completing her PhD in electricity market disruption and stepping up early on in her career with JP Morgan in London to bring sustainability and corporate social responsibility to the task of lending big money.
Jemma was the winner of WA Business News 40under40 in 2016 and went on in 2018 to win Sir Richard Branson’s Extreme Tech Challenge award followed by the EY Fintech Entrepreneur of the Year award. Did I mention she’s done it all while raising three children?
Dr Tracy Westerman
Managing Director, Indigenous Psychological Services
Dr. Tracy Westerman is a proud Nyamal woman from the Pilbara region. She’s renowned as a world leader in Aboriginal mental health, cultural competency and suicide prevention.
In 2003, she became the first Aboriginal person to complete a combined Masters/PhD in Clinical Psychology. Her PhD resulted in the development of four unique psychometric tests and helped determine a different nature to Aboriginal suicide and mental illness than had previously been focused on. She’s passionate about ensuring mental health practitioners working with Aboriginal people have high standards of competence and training to provide better service.
Tracy has developed nine unique psychological tests, unique Aboriginal mental health assessment models, multiple training packages and community intervention programs, as well as training over 30,000 practitioners across Australia.
Founder, Pretzel Australia
At just 23 years old, Brittany Garbutt created her iconic, pretty-in-pink Pretzel business with the opening of its first store in Northbridge. Nearly five years later and she’s raking in the success with ten stores across WA and Victoria, selling around 660,000 pretzels a year.
She sunk her entire life savings into starting the business in an inspiring gamble that ultimately paid off big time. Brittany has built a pretzel empire over the last four or so years with her keen eye for branding, and such success at such a young age is nothing short of inspiring.
She is the definition of hard work, determination and total girl power.
CEO, Marninwarntikura Women's Resource Centre
A proud Bunuba woman from the remote town of Fitzroy Crossing in the Kimberley, June is a powerful advocate for Indigenous Australian languages, social justice and women’s issues.
She has worked tirelessly to reduce Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder and in 2015, received the Menzies School of Health Research Medallion for her work.
June has had an impressive list of influential positions including Deputy Director of the Kimberley Land Council, chair of the Kimberley Language Resource Centre and the Kimberley Interpreting Service and Chief Investigator with WA’s Lililwan Project addressing FASD.
Rabia has had quite the journey as an international humanitarian lawyer, retired British Army senior officer, former war crimes and terrorism prosecutor and child sex abuse and hostage survivor.
She has undertaken humanitarian aid work in Asia, South America, Europe and The Middle East, for which she was decorated by Queen Elizabeth II.
Following on from her autobiography, Rabia is in the process of writing her second book, focusing on the power we all have to impact positive change. In addition to being a well-respected and multi-award-winning human rights lawyer, Rabia’s work expands to inspiring and empowering individuals and organisations to be greater self leaders and change-makers.
She now has an impressive list of talents as a multi-award-winning storyteller, inspirational speaker, leadership consultant, media commentator, and human rights advocate. Peace, equity and the sustainability of our planet are what drives her.
But her biggest challenge and joy? Being a mother to her young triplet sons!
Chief Executive Officer, Avenues Australia
Fadzai is CEO of Avenues Australia and the founder of The African Dream Foundation, a scholarship fund aimed at developing high potential young leaders experiencing financial disadvantage in Africa.
The African Dream Foundation uses education as a tool to tackle poverty in Africa and empower the youth. Fadzai has always been passionate about education and addressing the root causes of poverty. She has previously been a board member of the Australian Africa Business Council and Fleming Financial Trust and a winner of several awards including the 2014 Business Entrepreneur Award and the 2013 Ambassador/High Commissioner Choice Award.
Fadzai holds board roles in several not-for-profit organisations and leads with passion in any role she takes on, with a knack for empowering and cultivating her teams to become high performers in every aspect.
She’s currently a part-time MBA student at UWA Business School and she believes running an organisation is about constantly learning and challenging yourself- more leaders like this, please!
Dr Gina Ravenscroft
Genome Biology and Genetics Program, Perkins
Dr. Gina Ravenscroft has identified more than ten novel human disease genes in recent years and is a recognised world leader in fetal akinesias and congenital myopathies.
She is a long-term advocate for medical research and is currently an NHMRC Career Development Fellow and Senior Research Fellow at the University of Western Australia. In 2020, she established her own research group at the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research, with her research interests lying in rare genetic diseases and a particular focus on neurogenetic diseases in babies and children.
In 2016, she was named Young Myologist of the Year, closely followed by being named an Australian Institute of Policy and Science Young Tall Poppy.
Empower Western Australian women this International Women's Day!
This year we are choosing to support Dress for Success Perth and Empower Hour in their mission to #BreaktheBias and empower WA women.
Dress for Success Perth is a WA-based charity that is part of a global movement for change. They support vulnerable women to achieve economic independence by providing them with professional clothing, career development workshops, and one-to-one job application support.
Join us by donating your hour and help us reach our target. Your hour is more than just a gift — it’s an investment in the future. When women work, families thrive, communities prosper, and the economy grows.
Thank you for supporting WA women as they grow their confidence, courage and job-readiness skills ready for their new start.
Dress For Success Perth
Dress for Success Perth is a not-for-profit that empowers vulnerable Western Australian women to gain and retain employment. They help vulnerable women face their job search with the confidence, clothing and tools they need to get hired.
For Dress For Success Perth clients, gaining employment represents security, breaking the cycle of poverty, increased confidence, and pride. They rely on the generosity of the community and their amazing volunteers to deliver these services.