Deakin Partners With Women In Heels To Support Female Business Leaders

Barriers continue to crumble for Australia’s women in business with money being raised by Deakin University to support the education of future female leaders.

Deakin University, along with Business in Heels, recently launched a new crowdfunding campaign with the aim of raising $25,000 to support its Master of Business Administration (MBA) Access for Women Scholarship program.

Deakin has also pledged to match every dollar raised to further sweeten the pot and provide as much support as possible for women who want to equip themselves with the skills they need to be successful.

Deakin MBA’s Director of the Master of Leadership Dr Andrea North-Samardzic said it was important to bring more women into leadership roles to change our society’s perception of leadership.

“Across Australia, only 30 per cent of MBA graduates are women, yet an MBA is one of the most powerful qualifications that any leader can have,” she said.

“Good intentions aren’t enough. If we want to see more women succeeding as CEOs, executives and in the boardroom, we need to do more to broaden our traditional vision of what makes a leader, and equip women with the skills they need to be successful.”

Deakin became the most recent example of how Australian institutions have joined a revolution to encourage more women to become business leaders. The University of Sydney Business School, recently awarded two women the UN Women National Committee Australia Scholarship, worth over $60,000, to help them pursue an MBA. AGSM @ UNSW Business School also did their part by revitalising their student recruitment approach, resulting in a fully gender-balanced MBA cohort.

Deakin MBA Director Associate Professor Colin Higgins said Deakin’s scholarship program was part of the University’s effort to reduce the gender imbalance in Australian MBA programs.

“Women should be able to benefit as much as men from the career opportunities of having an MBA, yet they are underrepresented in these courses, with the two biggest barriers being time and money,” Associate Professor Higgins said.

“This scholarship program helps to remove one of these barriers, while Deakin’s flexible learning approach helps reduce the other. We’re delighted to have Business in Heels on board for this fundraising campaign and Deakin will be matching all funds raised.”

Deakin MBA alumna Sarah Sytema.

Deakin MBA alumna Sarah Sytema, who graduated from the program in 2016, said her experience showed that more needed to be done to support women to become business leaders.

“In my experience there are two key challenges that all women face – unconscious bias and traditional recruitment methods,” she said.

“Champions and mentors are critical to breaking through the unconscious bias women and others carry about the way they should behave and act as a women, business leaders and parents.

“There also seems to be a lack of women applying for entry-level leadership roles around their late twenties and early thirties, which is compounded by their child-bearing years and carries into their CV ‘experience’ when viewed against male participants under traditional recruitment.”

Ms Sytema is now Projects Coordinator Major Projects for Deals, Investments and Major Projects at Wyndham City Council. She had two children during her time studying at Deakin, and praised the online learning environment, deferment options and other study options for allowing her to juggle study, family, and career.

“I was reading my university textbooks at the door of my children’s bedrooms while they went to sleep,” she said.

“It took a real curiosity and passion for continuous learning, and drive to leave this world better than I found it – as well as lots of partner and family support, the online learning environment, study support from my workplace, and plenty of green tea.”

Ms Sytema had two pieces of advice for other women considering furthering their careers by undertaking an MBA.

“Be curious and try one subject, set out your aims and build incrementally towards your goal of 12 subjects,” she said.

“Do not underestimate the value of learning and self-development you will achieve in all parts of your life through the MBA.”

To find out more, or to make a donation to the campaign, visit:

Ben Ready
Ben Ready founded MBA News in 2014 and is the Managing Editor. He is a former business and finance journalist with Australian Associated Press (AAP) and Dow Jones Newswires in London. Ben completed his MBA in 2012 and was awarded the QUT GMAA Entrepreneurship Prize. He is also the founder and Managing Director of RGC Media & Mktng (