For more than two decades, WiT has been helping women find the inspiration and support they need to unlock their career potential and, in doing so, helping Australia take full advantage of the outstanding talent, energy and capacity they bring to every facet of our society and economy.
The community was founded in 1997 when a small group of ten women – technology pioneers in Queensland – sought the company of like-minded professionals. They had personally experienced the challenges of being female in a largely male-dominated IT sector and recognised that collaboration, friendship and support were crucial if women were to overcome the challenges of gender inequality and take their rightful place in the STEM sector.
The association changed its name to Women in Technology, in 2002, recognising the relationship between IT and emerging technology fields, such as science and engineering, and the growing diversity of women seeking career support.
In 2005, WiT launched separate committees for Life Sciences (previously Biotech) and ICT, to reflect the interests of the organisation’s increasingly diverse membership. Not only were numbers growing, but members were joining from far and wide – from many different disciplines and all career levels, particularly a growing cohort from senior ranks.
At the AGM in May 2021, WiT Members voted to change the Constitution, transitioning it from an association incorporated in Queensland, to a not-for-profit public company limited by guarantee. This was an important step in WiT’s evolution, introducing a new governance framework under the auspices of ASIC, and giving WiT the potential to build its national footprint.
Today, although the challenges are far from over, WiT has become an industry icon and safe harbour for thousands of women making their mark in STEM. WiT celebrates its 25th anniversary in 2022.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENT: Our sincerest appreciation goes to our founding members: Sonja Bernhardt, Jenny Beresford, Anne McGill, Carolyn Hill, Bernadette Hyland, Liz Manning, Yvonne Packbier, Joanne Sherman, Glenda Slingsby and Ann Uldridge. They were later joined by Sonya Trau (formerly D’Aoust) and Jeanette McLeod. We also thank Ann-Marie Birkhill, Carrie Hillyard and Jane Andrews who were instrumental in establishing the first Life Sciences Chapter.
Birth of a legend
Tragic life events can often be the catalyst for inspiring ideas and this was certainly the case for the inaugural president of Women in Technology Sonja Bernhardt. Read her story here.
Founding Members Celebrate 20 Years of WiT
We were honoured to welcome founding members at the 2017 WiT Awards as we celebrated our 20 year anniversary. These brave 10+ women have grown to tens of thousands of members and affiliates and the amazing spirit, enthusiasm and contribution of our founding members lives on.
Celebrating 20 years – (left to right) Bernadette Hyland, Sonja Bernhardt & Glenda Slingsby. Ann Uldridge with Sonja Bernhardt.