Boss Lady

Encouraging female entrepreneurial talent in the startup economy


There are fewer women holding chief executive and chair positions in the ASX200 than there are men named Peter in those roles. So it’s clear the gender gap is persisting and that women continue to be underrepresented in business and leadership – not only in the boardrooms of established companies,but also in the startup economy.

Time for change

At GSK, we have been working hard to make sure our workforce is gender-balanced. Due to a range of projects and focused initiatives, 42 per cent of our management positions are filled by women and a third of the GSK board is female.

With growing momentum toward greater diversity in business, we know that we are not alone in seeking change. In the startup economy, where only 1 in 4 founders are female, there is a push to address the tech and digital entrepreneur stereotype of blokes in hoodies playing table tennis.

Blue Chilli’s SheStarts is a multi-million dollar initiative that is doing just that.

Kick-starting big, bold ideas

SheStarts is a competitive program for ambitious female tech entrepreneurs with ideas for high-impact startup businesses. The program offers ten female-led startups$100k each in pre-seed capital and a spot in the SheStarts accelerator to provide support to take their businesses from idea to launch.

This program is inspiring, not just because it facilitates innovative thinking and will help ten women get their incredible ideas off the ground, but also because it will contribute to breaking down the stereotypes that hold so many women back across the startup economy.This is why GSK is backing the very best female tech entrepreneurs in Australia with our support for the BlueChilli SheStarts program.

Championing more women in tech

The SheStart stop ten include tech innovations and ideas that have the potential to transform healthcare and help patients and healthcare professionals alike.

Digital technology is changing the face of healthcare rapidly.  We are seeing the introduction of electronic health records, wearable technology is making us more conscious of our exercise levels and we can receive health advice with the click of a button.  It is important that men and women contribute to this change equally – a diverse startup sector will ensure we generate the greatest benefits for society.

A documentary web-series will kick off in January 2017 to capture the journeys of the top ten, as part of a multi-media campaign to inspire women and girls across the country to consider a future in tech and entrepreneurship. It will follow the startup founders from selection and initial boot camp, through to the high stakes pitch event and into the SheStarts accelerator as they build and grow their businesses.

The series will go behind the curtain to unveil the realities and challenges female entrepreneurs face, touching on major issues such as gendered expectations for caring responsibilities, unconscious bias, conscious bias and the gender gap in financial security and investment.

We hope SheStarts will help lift the lid on gender imbalances, give confidence to women with great ideas, and contribute towards a more diverse workforce.

About Bernadette Murdoch

Bernadette Murdoch is Head of Corporate Affairs at GSK Australasia. She is fascinated by how digital technology is disrupting industries and changing the way we work, communicate and live every aspect of our lives. She is also passionate about diversity and inclusion and making sure everyone has the opportunity to contribute equally to the digital changes around us.

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