Media Release by The Hon Julie Collins MP

70 exceptional women on board for diversity program

A new wave of 70 exceptional women has received scholarships in a joint Australian Government and corporate program aimed at increasing the representation of women on boards around the nation.

The Minister for the Status of Women, Julie Collins, announced the 70 recipients of the Board Diversity Scholarship Program scholarships in Hobart today.

Ms Collins was joined by the Tasmanian scholarships recipients – professional non-executive director, Elizabeth Swain and barrister and director, Kate Cuthbertson, and the Tasmanian President of the Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD), Derris Gillam.

The Scholarship Program is jointly funded by the Australian Government and the AICD, each contributing $225,000.

“Ensuring our boardrooms reflect the diversity of our community is sound business practice,” Ms Collins said.

“In failing to capitalise on the talents of women, leadership ranks and boardrooms are missing out on the valuable capacity of over half the population.

“While women make up 46 per cent of the labour force, they currently hold only 15.2 per cent of ASX 200 board positions.

“The 2012 Australian Census of Women in Leadership showed only 12 of the 278 executive directors in the ASX 200 are women and only seven of these are CEOs. This is an unacceptable situation in modern Australia.

“Since the Government joined with Company Directors in the first scholarship program in 2010, the percentage of women on ASX 200 boards has almost doubled – albeit from a very low base of 8.3 per cent – to 15.2 per cent.

“This compares to the 38.4 per cent of women on Australian Government boards – a direct result of this Government’s commitment to a 40:40:20 gender balance target on its boards by 2015,” Ms Collins said.

“The gender balance target and the Scholarship Program is one of a number of initiatives we have implemented aimed at increasing the representation of women in Australia’s boardrooms.

“Another is BoardLinks – a network to support more Australian women into leadership positions,” Ms Collins said.

“The new Gender Equality in the Workplace Act will also help promote the cultural change we need for women and men to be truly equal in the workplace.

“Equality in our workplaces, in our leadership ranks and in the composition of our boards is achievable – it’s up to all of us to drive and support this change for the benefit of our nation.”

Today’s scholarships recipients are from a diverse range of fields including manufacturing, health and traditional male-dominated industries such as mining and construction.

There are six Indigenous Australians and 12 from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds among the recipients.

The 70 recipients will receive full-fee scholarships to undertake the AICD’s highly regarded Company Directors Course or Mastering the Boardroom program and a 12-month membership of the Institute.

A full list of recipients is available at