The Weekly

5 inspiring Australian women you don't know but should

They deserve a standing ovation.

From ground-breaking politicians to Olympic medal-winning athletes and influential journalists, Australia has no shortage of inspiring women.
While you're probably familiar with the achievements of famous Australian women like Penny Wong, Sally Pearson and Leigh Sales, there are plenty of other home-grown females who are kicking some serious goals in their career and personal lives — and redefining gender stereotypes while they're at it.
Here are five Australian women that you probably haven't heard of (but definitely should).

Molly Miller

Molly Miller: Maintenance electrician for AGL
Growing up in Muswellbrook in the Hunter region of NSW, Molly Miller didn't want to head down what could be called "a typically female path" when it came to her career.
"I wanted to do something outdoors and hands-on," she says.
After hearing a female mechanic speak about her love for her job during a mining presentation at high-school, Molly realised that entering a trade was an option for her.
In 2013, at age 18, Molly started an electrical apprenticeship for AGL. Initially she felt daunted by being in an all-male cohort, however, the young electrician was determined to break down the gender barriers in her industry.
As a result, she topped her cohort and was offered a full-time job as a station maintenance electrician for AGL.
Her outstanding dedication to her field was rewarded in 2017, when Molly received the Woman in Non-Traditional Trade Award at the Hunter Region Training Awards.
"I struggled with other students saying things like 'you only got that because you're a girl' when I'd beaten them in class or for jobs," says Molly. But the award helped her to put those comments into perspective.
Now, the qualified electrician spends her time encouraging other young women to pursue careers in trade as a part of AGL's Try A Trade Day Initiative.
"I tell them that if I can do it, they can do it too."

Bernadette Black

Bernadette Black: Author and founder of the Brave Foundation
In 1993, at the age of 16, Bernadette Black unexpectedly fell pregnant and consequently, had to juggle the stigma attached with teenage pregnancy as well as the lack of support and education.
"Throughout my pregnancy, so many people looked at me critically and judgmentally and made me think that I should be embarrassed and ashamed," she says.
It was during her pregnancy that Bernadette promised herself she would complete her education and write a book to help and encourage other young women in her situation.
In 2006, Bernadette published Brave Little Bear, a documentation of her experience as a teenage mother. Bernadette's book was in great demand from secondary schools and clinics across Australia for copies and in 2010 it was reprinted.
Realising the power the of her story, Bernadette decided to start the Brave Foundation, a Tasmanian-based not-for-profit organisation dedicated to providing resources and education opportunities to support teenage parents.
The initial stages of starting up the foundation proved challenging for Bernadette , but just last year, the Barbados Mother of the Year received $4.4 million in federal funding to start the Supporting Expecting and Parenting Teens (SEPT) trial.
"SEPT will provide up to 350 young parents across Australia with new pathway planning through a local mentor," Black told the ABC.
Her heart-warming work and dedication to teenage parents has not gone unnoticed and this year, Bernadette was awarded the Tasmanian Australian of the Year.

Dr. Sharonne Zaks

Dr Sharonne Zaks: Dentist and musician
Who says a dentist can't be cool? Dr Sharonne Zaks is redefining what it means to be a dentist by combining her love for the profession with her talent for music to treat phobic patients and survivors of sexual assault and trauma.
With over 20 years of private practice experience, Dr Zaks special interest in survivors of trauma sparked her realisation that the dentist chair can be an incredibly triggering experience.
"It's all about reconfiguring the power balance of the relationship and us as dentists thinking about how to be less dominant and giving power and control back in all ways," says Dr Zaks.
From there, she began to develop innovative ways to make the trip to the dentist more appealing and comfortable for patients — such as the assistance of musical therapy. Sharing the ins and outs of her research at TEDx Sydney this year, Dr Zaks also spoke about the importance of sharing this research with other health professionals in order to improve the quality of life for sexual and trauma assault survivors.
Beyond this, Dr Zaks has also used her musical talents to create the dental cabaret 'Gobsmacked; a celebration of the mouth' to help make flossing more appealing to teenagers and adults.

Lisa Harrington

Lisa Harrington: Executive General Manager for Stakeholder Relations at AGL
Born to a mother who had escaped the former Yugoslavia for a better life, Lisa Harrington grew up being very aware of the sacrifices that had been made for her.
"I wanted to work hard and make those sacrifices worthwhile," she says.
One of the 40 per cent of women who make up AGL's senior leadership pipeline, Lisa is on AGL's executive team and is heavily involved in leading the changes — both for the environment and gender equality — in the Australian energy industry.
"AGL is a big player in the market and we have a responsibility to lead the energy transition," she says.
With over 20 years of experience in stakeholder relations and communications across corporate, government and not-for-profit sectors in Australia, Lisa was invited in 2016 to take part in the Advanced Management Program at Harvard University.
"It was extraordinary," she says. "There were 160 people from 41 countries in the program and I learned a lot in terms of professional development and about myself."
This year, Lisa returns to the judging panel for The Australian Women's Weekly Women of the Future Awards. "It's so important that we share our experiences, good and bad, so we can learn from each other and bring along the next generation," she says.

Bronnie Mackinstosh

Manager, Inclusion & Diversity Manager at Fire and Rescue NSW
In 2002, Bronnie Mackintosh decided to pursue her dream of joining the NSW Fire and Rescue service, and to dedicate her life to serving and protecting her community.
She was one of very few women working in the fire service at the time (five per cent, to be exact) and immediately knew she had to pioneer a movement to combat the lack of diversity.
In 2016 — off the back of a Winston Churchill Fellowship — Bronnie travelled the world to see how other fire and emergency services operated. She was quick to learn that fire services in countries such as Sweden and Canada were far more reflective of the diverse communities that they protect.
Bringing this knowledge back to Australia, Bronnie decided to start the not-for-profit organisation, Girls On Fire, dedicated to introducing and encouraging young women to consider a career in the firefighting field.
"We actually save more lives through prevention, preparedness and recovery than we do in the seven per cent (fighting fires) response phase of our role," Bronnie says. "You don't need to be an over six foot white male to do any of that!"
Bronnies's dedication to diversifying the force saw her invited as a key note speaker for TEDx Sydney last year, and promoted to the role of Inclusion & Diversity Manager at Fire and Rescue NSW, just last month.
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