CALD Women in Leadership Conference creates visibility

Headshots of each student

3 minute read

On Sunday 20 August, five students from The Australian National University College of Business and Economics attended the Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) Women in Leadership Conference.

The conference, organised by Alo Enlightened Women in partnership with Women in Information and Communications Technologies (ICT), and supported by the ACT Government, focused on providing effective strategies for women to move into leadership in the ICT space.

The theme of the conference ‘See it to be it’ builds off the phrase ‘You can’t be what you can’t see’, which highlights the significance of representation and visibility in influencing one’s aspirations and ambitions.

The day included workshops and discussions, and CEOs, technology leaders and academics gave talks on how to thrive as CALD women in the workplace.

CBE students Yanin Wongtharua, Wei Wei, Rani Astrianti Pawaka and Yaxuan Du attended, along with fellow student Xinyi Xie.

Wei and Yanin found one of the workshops run by Xiaoyan Lu, Executive Director of System Assurance and Data Analytics Group at the Australian National Audit Office, of particular value.

“I feel ready to define what career progression means to me and improve my skills, including building a business case, to achieve my career goal,” says Yanin.

“Xioyan’s story particularly resonated with me, emphasising the imperative to pursue our career goals despite challenges,” says Wei.

“A surprising revelation from the conference was the sheer number of barriers CALD women still face in leadership roles, highlighting the continued need for change,” she continued.

The conference also had valuable lessons for Yaxuan and Rani.

“One of the most notable highlights of the conference was the session on the growth mindset, which influenced my perspective and provided me with valuable tools for navigating the constantly-changing IT industry,” says Rani.

“The sessions encouraged us to openly share our limitations and view them positively. The paradigm shift in perspective can be a powerful tool for personal development, empowering us to tackle challenges with renewed determination,” says Yaxuan.

Dr Lubna
Dr Luba Alam. Image credit: Lees Lens Photography.

Dr Lubna, Associate Professor at Deakin University and Founder and President of Alo Enlightened Women, says CALD women in ICT face specific challenges when it comes to representation and success in their roles.

“Women, in general, are less represented in multiple male-dominated industry sectors and in leadership roles. CALD women face further barriers at the intersection of ethnicity, gender and race, and stigmas around women technology leaders,” she says.

“It’s important to invest in CALD women’s development, and create an inclusive and diverse workplace.”

Wei expressed the importance of these kinds of events.

“Events like these are vital, not only for the personal and professional development of CALD women but also for creating platforms of visibility, inspiration, and networking. They remind us of the strength within diversity and the necessity for continued growth and representation in leadership roles,” she says.

Rani mirrored Wei’s feelings on the conference.

“In addition to emphasising significant issues, they empower women from CALD backgrounds by promoting knowledge and facilitating their advancement into leadership roles,” she says.

CBE Associate Professor Ying-Yi Chih, Associate Dean (Students and Industry Experience), shared the College’s aim to continue to provide its students with opportunities like these.

“The College is committed to empowering all our students to achieve their full potential, irrespective of their cultural and linguistic background,” she says.

“It is truly encouraging to learn about the valuable insights they have gained from their participation in the conference.”


The ANU College of Business and Economics offers an extensive range of specialised programs. Click here for more details.