Australia

Population: 
23,490,736
Number of Business Networks: 15
Number of Private Sector Initiatives: 14
Number of Government Services: 4
Labor Force Participation Rate: 
71

Introduction

In three decades, Australia has strived to establish a robust set of conditions for the economic empowerment of women. The Australian government put in place many initiatives pertaining to women and health, education, work, law, education and welfare, thus reducing historic imbalances between men and women. More...

In three decades, Australia has strived to establish a robust set of conditions for the economic empowerment of women. The Australian government put in place many initiatives pertaining to women and health, education, work, law, education and welfare, thus reducing historic imbalances between men and women. Achievements include the creation of women’s health clinics in all the states and territories; establishment of shelters and halfway houses for women escaping domestic violence; the granting of official rights to equal pay to women; and increased availability and provision of paid childcare in the workplace. Australia mandated equality in work through its Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (SDA) and Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Act 1999.

Against this backdrop, Australia has become known for its commitment to gender equality. In 2014, the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Index, which compares conditions faced by men and women in 142 economies, ranked Australia 14th  with respect to women’s economic participation and opportunity (and 24th overall), one of the best showings among APEC economies. In 2011, the labor force participation rate of women (age 20-64) reached 65.3 percent, a 5 percentage point increase from the rate in 2001 alone, and a 12.8 percentage point increase from the 1980 figure.

Despite these strides, Australia still faces some gender barriers. The labor force participation rate for women is still lower than that of men (nearly 80 percent in 2011). Mothers are more likely to work part-time rather than full-time, and the majority of casual workers—56 percent—are women. Women continue to be concentrated in a narrower range of occupations and industries than men. Men continue to dominate the mining industry, for example, while women represent the majority of workers in the retail sector. This occupational and industrial concentration is associated with the persistence of the gender wage gap. The government has sought to address this, through efforts such as the Human Rights Commission’s promotion of a “toolkit of strategies” for stakeholders to help promote women’s participation in male-dominated industries.

Increasingly in Australia, women launch their own businesses. According to a survey of women entrepreneurs by the Australian Women Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the number of women owning businesses has doubled since 2007, reaching one million in 2012. The survey found that 78 percent of female entrepreneurs had left middle-to-upper-management jobs to start their own business. Just over 40 percent of those started their business with less than AUS$5,000 (US$3,800), and 27 percent of those now generate more than AUS$250,000 (US$193,000) in annual revenue. The majority of these businesses are in service industries.

Australia provides a variety of best practices pertaining to the development of female entrepreneurs. The examples in this section broadly highlight the economy’s spectrum of business networks, private-sector initiatives, and government services. 

The proportion of Australian women who have come into their own as business owners has increased since the turn of the millennium. These women have benefited from the diversity of business networks that promote female entrepreneurship. The networks described below offer programs and services that address barriers that female business owners, existing and potential, face across many different locals and industries.

Networks that support women’s access to capital and assets: 

No information available. Contact us if you know of a network that fits this criteria.

Networks that support women’s access to markets: 

ABN is an online community of 20,000 members that supports women in reaching their potential as business owners. Members have access to comprehensive resources, including webinars; ...more

AIBN is a not-for-profit membership-based organization. AIBN facilitates Australia-Indonesia trade and investment promoting women’s entrepreneurship; helps women contribute to their communities, the workforce, and the economy; and increases women’s participation in...more

Established on International Women’s Day in 2011, AWCCI is a national body for women business owners in Australia. Representing self-employed women at a federal level,...more

The Hastings Business Women's Network is an organisation of more than 170 local women who come together to exchange ideas, information and inspiration as they strive for business success. Founded in 1999, the HBWN has a proud history of encouraging, empowering and...more

A community of over 30,000 women in Australia, the League of Extraordinary Women is a business association for women entrepreneurs. Membership benefits include access regular breakfast meetings with like-minded entrepreneurs and an annual Run the World conference,...more

Founded in Brisbane in 1990, WNA is a national business network that connects members online and through business networking events in 12 major cities in Australia. Members benefit from networking events and educational...more

Networks that support strengthened capacity and skills for women in business: 

Founded in 1993, AWiA is a support network for women in agriculture, and ensures that women’s contribution to agriculture, as farmers, is recognized; that female farmers have access to state and national leaders so their voices are heard; and that female farmers have...more

A community of over 30,000 women in Australia, the League of Extraordinary Women is a business association for women entrepreneurs. Membership benefits include access regular breakfast meetings with like-minded entrepreneurs and an annual Run the World conference,...more

Founded in 2009, SALT is a not-for-profit, all-volunteer, organization that provides networking, services and support to current and potential tradeswomen and apprentices in nontraditional occupations for women. SALT provides guidance on how to become a tradeswoman and...more

WCEI was formed in 1985 as the Australian affiliate chapter of the French organization ‘Femmes Chefs d’Entreprises. WCEI provides members with access to a national and international community of women entrepreneurs. WCEI...more

Networks that support women’s leadership, voice and agency: 

Founded in 1992 and created and run solely by Australian women, CWB is a nonprofit association that supports women in business. It offers mentorship programs, business skills development, and access to networks that expand women’s resource and educational opportunities...more

Chief Executive Women (CEW) represents over 360 of Australia’s most senior women leaders whose shared vision is women leaders enabling women leaders. Through its advocacy, targeted programs and scholarships CEW works to remove the barriers to women’s progression and...more

Started in 2010, this organization seeks to increase the number of women managing high-growth companies. Female CEOs apply to join and the organization connects them with mentors and advisors who can help them expand their businesses. The CEOs receive assistance in...more

A community of over 30,000 women in Australia, the League of Extraordinary Women is a business association for women entrepreneurs. Membership benefits include access regular breakfast meetings with like-minded entrepreneurs and an annual Run the World conference,...more

Founded in 2011, WLIA works to address the imbalance of women in leadership positions in Australia and the absence of women’s voices in the public sphere, in media, and at conferences. The main initiative of the organization is “Women for Media,” which offers journalists...more

Networks that support women and innovation and technology: 

WIC is a nonprofit organization established in 2000 that promotes the role of women in information and communication and works to increase the number of women in the industry. WIC is a volunteer-run and membership-based organization. Annual membership dues range from $50...more

WiTWA is a Perth-based nonprofit organization that connects women in technology to others, and connects them to learning resources on a wide range of topics. It encourages both young men and women to consider technology as a potential profession. WiTWA offers several...more

Private Sector Initiatives. 

Initiatives that support women’s access to capital and assets: 

AVPN is a unique funders network headquartered in Singapore that seeks to increase the flow of financial, human and intellectual capital to the social sector across the Asia Pacific region. We promote venture philanthropy in the broader philanthropic and social...more

The Global Women Entrepreneur Leaders (GWEL) Scorecard, sponsored by Dell Inc. and produced by ACG Inc., is a new data driven diagnostic tool that identifies the impediments to high impact female entrepreneurship and introduces actionable steps that can be taken to...more

Founded in Melbourne in March 2013, Scale is an angel investor network that assists women in becoming angel investors and supports women entrepreneurs at the early stages of business. Scale is inspired by Golden Seeds, a U.S. angel investor network. Scale believes in...more

Launched in 1999 as a forum to showcase women-led companies seeking equity financing, Springboard Enterprises offers training and coaching to women who need help pitching their enterprises. The organization showcases ...more

Westpac is an Australia-based bank and financial services provider, one of Australia’s Big 4 Banks, and the economy’s “...more

Initiatives that support women’s access to markets: 

The Global Women Entrepreneur Leaders (GWEL) Scorecard, sponsored by Dell Inc. and produced by ACG Inc., is a new data driven diagnostic tool that identifies the impediments to high impact female entrepreneurship and introduces actionable steps that can be taken to...more

WEConnect International in Australia identifies, educates, registers, and certifies women's business enterprises that are at least 51% owned, managed, and controlled by one or more women.WEConnect International in Australasia connects women-owned enterprises to...more

Initiatives that support strengthened capacity and skills for women in business: 

AVPN is a unique funders network headquartered in Singapore that seeks to increase the flow of financial, human and intellectual capital to the social sector across the Asia Pacific region. We promote venture philanthropy in the broader philanthropic and social...more

Business Chicks is a private company that connects an online community of 35,000 business women that offers members the opportunity to connect, share ideas, and support each other’s businesses. Membership benefits includes access to regular networking nights across...more

EY has two programs for women in Australia. Women with Ambition is a regular breakfast series and networking event that offers emerging leaders an opportunity to build relationships with experienced...more

SHEentrepreneur is a community of over 6,000 women in business. The community, based in Brisbane, has regular workshops and networking events that are open to both men and women in business and provide practical leadership and skills training. The events also help...more

WEConnect International in Australia identifies, educates, registers, and certifies women's business enterprises that are at least 51% owned, managed, and controlled by one or more women.WEConnect International in Australasia connects women-owned enterprises to...more

An initiative of the Australian Institute of Mining and Mineralology, WINnet supports the recruitment and retention of female professionals and students in the mining industry. WINnet has several goals: increase the number of female mining graduates and the number of...more

Initiatives that support women’s leadership, voice and agency: 

The Global Women Entrepreneur Leaders (GWEL) Scorecard, sponsored by Dell Inc. and produced by ACG Inc., is a new data driven diagnostic tool that identifies the impediments to high impact female entrepreneurship and introduces actionable steps that can be taken to...more

Telstra is an Australian telecommunications company. The Telstra Business Women Awards recognize women for their highly successful companies or programs, innovative approaches, and community service. There are multiple awards, for individuals, corporate employees,...more

WLA believes that women are an underutilized national resource in Australia, and aims to increase the number of women in business and community leadership roles. Since its inaugural forum in 2003, over 50,000 women have participated in WLA symposia and conventions on...more

Women in Focus is a community for business women sponsored by Commonwealth Bank. An online community offers resources on entrepreneurship, business strategy, innovation and technology, finances, leadership, and professional development. It also offers multiple ways for...more

Initiatives that support women and innovation and technology: 

Founded in 1997 with 10 members, WiT is a technology industry association for women from all technology disciplines. It now has more than 2,300 members and affiliates with sponsorship from organizations such as Google, Queensland Government, QUT, and Griffith. In 2005,...more

The Australian government supports women’s entrepreneurship, particularly in recent years, through policies and programs in national, state and territorial governments. The Australian Government Office for Women and the Australian Trade Commission (Austrade) have proven helpful to women in delivering training, consulting services,  and mentorship programs; providing opportunities to attend trade fairs abroad; providing introductions to potential suppliers; and fostering partnerships in the banking and finance sectors as well as other public and private sector agencies.

Services that support women’s access to capital and assets: 

No information available. Contact us if you know of a network that fits this criteria.

Services that support women’s access to markets: 

Supported by Austrade, the Australia’s trade commission, WiGB encourages women-owned business to expand into international trade. WiGB offers education programs and services on exporting, connects women with a network of experienced business mentors,  and publishes...more

Services that support strengthened capacity and skills for women in business: 

No information available. Contact us if you know of a network that fits this criteria.

Services that support women’s leadership, voice and agency: 

An initiative of the Sex Discrimination Commission, MCC is a coalition of male leaders who advocate for gender equality within companies, organizations and communities. In 2013, MCC created a ...more

Services that support women and innovation and technology: 

This website encourages small businesses to develop an online presence. It provides practical information on marketing,  bookkeeping...more

The program provides free group training and face-to-face support for small-to-medium enterprises and not-for-profit organizations to help women improve how they do business and deliver services online. The program was established in 69 communities across Australia but...more