International Women’s Day 2023 - Cracking the Code

The United Nations International Women’s Day theme is “DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality."

Here in Australia, our local IWD theme is Cracking the Code: Innovation for a gender equal future.

We asked some of our leading researchers to share their reflections in 2023.

Professor Irene Blackberry

John Richards Chair and Director of the John Richards Centre for Rural Ageing Research

Technology adoption has the potential to reduce care work and increase women’s participation in Australia’s Care Economy.

Professor Therese Keane

Professor of STEM Education and Associate Dean in Research and Industry Engagement

This year's theme for IWD is especially important in ensuring that young girls in early childhood, primary and secondary school are engaged and encouraged to experiment and use technology, develop their STEM interests, and be provided with ample opportunities to learn and develop their programming skills.

Digital Technologies education is vital in providing girls with opportunities to participate as a fully informed and active digital citizen in a digital world.

Dr Jess Ison

Post Doctoral Research Fellow, Judith Lumley Centre

The Reducing Gender-based violence Network (ReGeN) strives towards building a world without gender-based violence.

We bring together researchers and practioners from across the university and the broader community. Our aim is an inclusive world for all.

Professor Ing Kong

Professor and Head, Department of Engineering

Growing up in a family of all girls, four of us have graduated with PhDs in STEM fields.

We have proved that girls can be just as successful as boys in STEM fields. Happy International Women’s Day!

Professor Jane Mills

Dean, La Trobe Rural Health School

Now more than ever rural women leaders using innovative digital technology to improve access and equity in rural health.

We need more research funding for rural specific studies to determine the impact of these solutions on the health and wellbeing of individuals, communities and populations outside of Australia’s metropolitan centres.

Dr Corina Modderman

Senior Lecturer in the Department of Rural Allied Health, Shepparton campus

La Trobe University’s regional campuses – including in Shepparton, where I am based – enable women who might not otherwise have access to higher education an opportunity to reach their full potential.

Through a wide range of courses, and strong supports for students at all stages of life, the University is making a difference to higher education attainment and gender equality, particularly in regional Victoria.

Dr Donna Whelan

Director of the Holsworth Biomedical Research Initiative, La Trobe Institute for Molecular Science

I’m passionate about my responsibility supporting women from diverse backgrounds in STEM study and careers. This starts just by being a visible woman in STEM research for the local community and our undergraduates, and extends to one-on-one mentoring of up and coming researchers through summer projects, honours, PhDs, and beyond.

This International Women’s Day, I acknowledge how fortunate I have been to help train and inspire so many brilliant women through our winter and summer undergraduate research programs, as well as Honours and PhD projects.

Because my research combines biology with physics, engineering and computational science, I’ve seen so many women enter research with a biology background and discover their passion and capability for STEM areas still disproportionately dominated by men – things like microscope design and computer coding. I’ve seen this in women just leaving high school, all the way up to senior academics!

Being a woman and fostering a diverse research group made up predominantly by other brilliant women, we help each other explore these research areas in a space shielded from the typical systematic inequality that all too often stops girls thinking of science as a potential career, let alone the male-dominated fields within STEM.

Professor Suzanne Young

Professor of Management (Governance and CSR), La Trobe Business School

The increasing focus on a technologically advanced future has not only highlighted the importance of STEM skills but has also underscored the role of diversity,  an essential ingredient to developing creative solutions to complex global issues. Diversity is a key element in increasing the talent pool and meeting the needs of diverse markets. Despite this, women remain dramatically underrepresented in STEM-related careers.

Teaching support is important for female students in STEM by reducing their feelings of alienation. This highlights the key role of teachers in creating a learning environment where students feel safe to freely share their thoughts and feelings, but it also accentuates the role of the educational environment in fostering students’ identity with technology professions.

Media enquiries: Courtney Carthy –, +61 487 448 734