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That’s a wrap: Women in Media National Conference 2023

Let’s try to keep the post-conference buzz going with the words of Ita Buttrose, Sam Mostyn, Taryn Brumfitt and Sunita Gloster ringing in our heads. And WOW did the Women in Media community show how networking is done. We hope you found time to meet new people and reignite relationships that may have lapsed.

The sessions were lively and thought-provoking giving us all much to reflect on hopefully for days to come.

Our Day Two MC, Sarah Abo, set the scene telling us that we’re not just dabbling in a pivot, we’re driving change. We’re innovating, inventing, disrupting and reinventing – together, as women in arms.

Master of Ceremonies, Sarah Abo
Master of Ceremonies, Sarah Abo

The first panel demonstrated this. “Remaking the Rules” showcased a line-up of rule breakers—women who understand how to challenge the prevailing paradigm. The panel featured Hannah Diviney, Claire Kimball, and Hannah Ferguson. The discussion was moderated by our own Kathy McLeish, a director of Women in Media Australia and the founding convenor of Women in Media, Queensland (among her many other accomplishments).

“Part of my conversation is, how are we supposed to get men interested in feminist media? That’s a really hard conversation because while we can all sit in here and have these conversations together, does that make change when we’re all agreeing and it’s an echo chamber?”

Hannah Ferguson

Hannah Ferguson, Chloe Kimball, Hannah Diviney
Hannah Ferguson, Chloe Kimball, Hannah Diviney

In “Tech Implications, Advantages and Alarm Bells” presented by UTS academic and media industry experts dismantled the issues of technology that we are most curious about with Dr Evana Wright, Michael Davis, and Lisa Main — moderated by Professor Monica Attard OAM.

Lisa Main, Dr Evana Wright, Michael Davis, Monica Attard OAM
Lisa Main, Dr Evana Wright, Michael Davis, Monica Attard OAM

Women in sports media experience a blend of progress and setbacks, with recent Matildas' success offering hope for change, but incidents like KissGate highlight ongoing gender disparities. In “Sport's Outsized Impact”, we were privileged to hear the perspectives of Ellie Cole OAM, Moya Dodd AO, and Jane Flemming OAM, on how to create a more inclusive future for Australian sport.

“A re-evaluation of women’s sporting rights is overdue… The fact that you have a lot of eyes watching women’s sport that are not being monetised, do we really think that these eyeballs are worth less because of the gender of the people watching? There is no sense in that.”

Moya Dodd AO

Moya Dodd AO, Ellie Cole OAM, Jane Flemming OAM, Amanda Shalala
Moya Dodd AO, Ellie Cole OAM, Jane Flemming OAM, Amanda Shalala

Film and television shape our perceptions and identities, and in the “Driving Female Narratives” session, Bruna Papandrea, Sally Riley and Deanne Weir, explored how they amplify unique voices and the importance of female narratives.

“The question of representation of women in society is a timeless one and we seem to have been generally ignored by cultural mediums of the day, from cave paintings to mosaics, written literature, theatre or history books. The roles, interests and pursuits of women across the globe have, for millenia, tended to be defined through the lens of men. We were goddess, mother, witch, victim or whore and that was about it. And even once we dared to, we were usually considered rather presumptuous for wanting to tell our own stories.”

Deanne Weir

Bruna Papandrea, Deanne Weir, Sally Riley
Bruna Papandrea, Deanne Weir, Sally Riley

Leigh Sales AM, the award-winning journalist, author, and podcaster, took centre stage to discuss the evolving landscape of journalism in a conversation led by Samantha Jonscher, the Caroline Jones Women in Media Young Journalist’s Award recipient for 2022.

“The fourth trait that many great storytellers share is empathy. One of the biggest barriers to making a genuine connection to another human being is going into conversation or interaction with a judgemental mind set… Nothing will give you a poorer experience of life in the world than going through it with that kind of attitude. None of us are stupid, we all know when we’re being judged and we’re not going to be open or vulnerable in that kind of context.”

Leigh Sales AM

Leigh Sales AM, Samantha Jonscher
Leigh Sales AM, Samantha Jonscher

What better way to end than with an hour of laughter! “A Rational Fear”, an award-winning comedy podcast hosted by Dan Ilic and Lewis Hobba, teamed up with a stellar lineup of the funniest women in Australian media, including Hannah Ferguson, Nayuka, Lewis Hobba, Nina Oyama, Male Nina Oyama and Vidya Rajan, along with DJ Dylan Behan and Jane Caro, who encouraged us "to be a pain in the a**". Together, they had us in stitches as they dissected the modern challenges faced by women in the media in 2023 in a special live recording presented by Australian Ethical.

We express our gratitude for the generous support from our partners and sponsors. For the fourth consecutive year, ABC serves as our conference's Major Media Partner, while Seven and University Technology Sydney (UTS) join as Presenting Partners. Paramount, Nudge Coaching, and Southern Pictures were Supporting Partners.

Well that’s a wrap! Over 70 presenters took to the stage, captivating us with their stories, wisdom, and humour. Discussions spanned a wide spectrum of topics, including technology, sports, advertising, and social change.

But it’s you, the community of Women in Media that really are the stars of the show. Over 400 delegates came together for the first time in Sydney and the energy was positively contagious. So, keep spreading those vibes, shattering those glass ceilings, and showing the world what it means to be an unstoppable force!

Thank you!

This event wouldn't have been possible without the generous support of our conference sponsors, and we wholeheartedly thank them.

We value your input and insights. Please take a moment to share your thoughts by completing our post-event survey to help us enhance future conferences.

We can't wait to welcome you back, the 2024 event will be held in Sydney. Stay tuned for more updates and exciting announcements about next year's conference!

Day Two highlights:


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