ESSA celebrates the pioneering women in our industry on International Women’s Day

Today is International Women's Day, a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women, while also marking a call to action for accelerating gender balance: #BalanceforBetter.

Exercise & Sports Science Australia (ESSA) continues to celebrate the presence of gender balance throughout its organisation, as well as the pioneering women in its industry who may not have had a chance to be recognised for their commitment and hard work.

“At ESSA, we are unique in that 50% of our membership is female, with an almost 50% appointment of women on our National Board – including our Vice President,” says Anita Hobson-Powell, ESSA Chief Executive Officer.

“As an association that represents over 8,000 professionals, there is always more that ESSA can do to build a more gender-balanced industry. Reports have found that for women to thrive, they need to see other women demonstrate and achieve the possibilities they have. We want to encourage female industry leaders to step in to the spotlight.”

In light of this, ESSA has continued to support the development of female leaders in the industry by announcing the ‘2019 Female Leaders in Exercise & Sports Science’ as nominated by their peers.

“We are inspired to have a wide range of industry leaders within our membership, both male and female, however, in celebration of International Women’s Day, ESSA is recognising three women who are helping to forge a more progressive, gender balanced community and are portraying true leadership and influential change,” adds Anita.

“I believe these women not only represent this and more but are continuously driving excellence in their roles and are an inspiration to others in the industry who are advocating for positive change daily.”

The 2019 Female Leaders in Exercise & Sports Science are:

  • Dr Emma Beckman – Emma has significantly contributed to promoting and engaging participation in sports for people with disabilities, particularly at an elite Paralympic level. Emma was nominated for her passion and her role in forging the path for excellence in exercise and sports science.
“I know many women in the industry downplay their own expertise and worth and I think there are a lot of us suffering from imposter syndrome, and not having enough faith in our skills! So, I think now more than ever, we need to keep reminding these amazing women that we work and interact with, that their expertise is valued and they are doing a great job.”

“The more we can create a culture of support and mentorship, the more we will see these women in strong leadership positions, which will strengthen our industry immeasurably.”

  • Dr Shona Halson – Shona has nearly 20 years of experience in the sports science industry and is a pioneer in the areas of performance recovery, fatigue and sleep. Shona is a true leader and also a great role model to all female sports scientists.
“Gender balance in our industry appears to be improving, however it is important to identify opportunities to increase the number of females in high performance roles and academic leadership roles. In many undergraduate courses, female students make up 50% or more of graduates, yet this does not translate to higher level leadership positions. I am fortunate to work for ACU, who were recently recognised for their commitment to gender equality and were awarded an Employer of Choice for Gender Equality in 2019.”

  • Ms Kirsty Rawlings – Kirsty was ESSA’s first female Director to hold an executive role as Vice-President, who then took on the role of ESSA President. Kirsty has been a strategic leader at an executive level and continues to be an inspiration to those around her.
“My advice to other women is to be confident in putting your hand up for a role, and be prepared to take a risk. Don’t wait until you fit all the aspects of a role perfectly – have a plan to address any gaps or build more experience if required. Seek out a sponsor or mentor to help you with identifying and going after opportunities, and building a successful network. Most of all be ‘you’ – be authentic, and be confident in honouring your voice and vision.”

“At ESSA we are exploring how we can identify, foster and support women to feel confident to put their hand up for opportunities, and support their belief in their skills and experience – and voice – that they can bring to these opportunities.”

For more information on International Women’s Day, please click here.

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