At a time when the number of female CEOs in ASX200-listed companies is declining, the effect of the pandemic is disproportionately impacting women and gender pay gaps are still evident, support for women in the workforce is more important than ever, advocates Curtin MBA graduate Kathryn Forrest.
“While the representation and recognition of women in the business community is growing, significant under-representation, particularly in leadership positions, endures,” Forrest says.
These systemic issues have led Forrest to launch an award to support women studying a Master of Business Administration and associated feed-in courses at Curtin.
“I established the Kathryn Forrest Women in Business Administration Award to help women achieve their full potential in business,” she says.
“At the time I was studying my MBA at Curtin, there weren’t any awards I was eligible for. I didn’t want that to be the case for other women in a similar position.”
Forrest says she hopes the award creates greater awareness of the need and opportunity to create more merit-based opportunities for women in the Curtin MBA program.
“I want to encourage greater support from individuals, the business community and academic institutions, for women studying business adminstration courses at Curtin,” she says.
The MBA graduate believes there can be multiple positive flow-on effects for those who receive awards.
“I hope my award recipients derive a greater sense of confidence and self-assurance in their own abilities,” she says.
“I hope it help opens doors for them to get into leadership positions by contributing to their own demonstrable path of achievement. In turn, I hope recipients provide a leading example of women achieving in business and support people around them in a similar vein.”
Forrest says while it’s fantastic that awards can provide recipients with financial support, there are other benefits too.
“The non-financial benefits of awards can be substantial. They offer recipients valuable recognition, motivation and future career opportunities.”
Forrest has a long association with Curtin, both as a student and former staff member.
“I initially studied a Graduate Diploma in Business Law at Curtin,” she says. “I chose to return to study a MBA because I like to understand how businesses and organisations run on a holistic level.”
She has spent the past thirteen years of her career employed in the Western Australian mining sector in an environmental capacity.
“I have been privileged to work in a variety of locations and across a number of commodities,” she smiles.
“I really enjoy the dynamic nature of the mining industry.”
Forrest hopes her award will encourage more women to pursue a career in business and seek leadership roles.
“All individuals, irrespective of gender, should have a fair chance to achieve and contribute to any industry they choose to work in.”