Media Release by The Hon Kate Ellis MP

Australian women boosted into the boardroom

Minister for the Status of Women, Kate Ellis today announced the seventy exceptional Australian women who have been accepted into the Board Diversity Scholarship Program.

The scholarships are a joint initiative of the Australian Government and the Australian Institute of Company Directors that is designed to give Australian women the skills they need to become company directors or boardroom chairs.

“I am thrilled by the extraordinary talent and experience of the Australian women who have been accepted into this prestigious program,” Ms Ellis said.

“More than 1,900 women from across the country applied for the program and every one of these women demonstrated outstanding skills in their chosen field.

“The overwhelming response and the high calibre of applicants disproves the myth that there aren’t enough women qualified or interested to serve on our nation’s boards.

“There is simply no excuse for women to not be well represented at the highest echelons of every sector of our community.

“We know that more diverse company boards are more successful, so this is also great news for Australian businesses.

The program is a joint initiative between the Australian Government and the Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD) and is one of several current initiatives designed to increase the numbers of women on private sector boards and serving as Chairpersons.

The recipients will undertake courses of study designed for board-ready women seeking professional development in gaining their first board role, or experienced female directors aiming for board Chair positions.

John Colvin, Chief Executive of the Australian Institute of Company Directors said that while the numbers of women on ASX 200 boards increased over the last 12 months, there is still more work to do.

“We hope that providing these scholarships, to allow talented women to take advantage of these courses will play a vital role in achieving our aim of encouraging greater diversity across Australia’s not-for-profit, public sector and private sector boards,” Mr Colvin said.

Ms Ellis said that while women make up 45 per cent of our workforce, they hold only 8.4 per cent of board directorships and  10.6% of positions on ASX 200 boards.

“This program will help boost these outstanding women into board roles, and I have no doubt they will go on to be key decision makers in their chosen fields,” Ms Ellis sad.

The successful applicants represent a diverse range of fields including architecture, finance, science, and leaders from the community and disability sectors –many seen as traditionally male-dominated industries.

The Board Diversity Scholarship Program complements efforts by the Australian Government to increase the number of women in Federal boardrooms by placing a 40 per cent gender target across all government decision-making bodies by 2015.