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ESSA celebrates industry pioneers on International Women’s Day

ESSA celebrates industry pioneers on International Women’s Day
March 8, 2019

Exercise and Sports Science Australia (ESSA) has acknowledged that today, International Women's Day, is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women, while also marking a call to action for accelerating gender balance: #BalanceforBetter.

ESSA continues to celebrate the presence of gender balance throughout its organisation and the pioneering women in its industry who may not have had a chance to be recognised for their commitment and hard work. 

ESSA Chief Executive, Anita Hobson-Powell explained "at ESSA, we are unique in that 50% of our membership is female, with an almost 50% appointment of women on our National Board - including our Vice President.

“As an association that represents over 8,000 professionals, there is always more that ESSA can do to build a more gender-balanced industry. Reports have found that for women to thrive, they need to see other women demonstrate and achieve the possibilities they have. We want to encourage female industry leaders to step in to the spotlight.” 

In light of this, ESSA has continued to support the development of female leaders in the industry by announcing the ‘2019 Female Leaders in Exercise & Sports Science’ as nominated by their peers. 

Hobson-Powell adds “we are inspired to have a wide range of industry leaders within our membership, both male and female, however, in celebration of International Women’s Day, ESSA is recognising three women who are helping to forge a more progressive, gender balanced community and are portraying true leadership and influential change.

“I believe these women not only represent this and more but are continuously driving excellence in their roles and are an inspiration to others in the industry who are advocating for positive change daily.” 

The 2019 Female Leaders in Exercise & Sports Science are: 
Dr Emma Beckman – Dr Beckman has significantly contributed to promoting and engaging participation in sports for people with disabilities, particularly at an elite Paralympic level. Dr Beckman was nominated for her passion and her role in forging the path for excellence in exercise and sports science. 

“I know many women in the industry downplay their own expertise and worth and I think there are a lot of us suffering from imposter syndrome, and not having enough faith in our skills! So, I think now more than ever, we need to keep reminding these amazing women that we work and interact with, that their expertise is valued and they are doing a great job.

“The more we can create a culture of support and mentorship, the more we will see these women in strong leadership positions, which will strengthen our industry immeasurably.” 

Dr Shona Halson – Dr Halson has nearly 20 years of experience in the sports science industry and is a pioneer in the areas of performance recovery, fatigue and sleep. Dr Halson is a true leader and also a great role model to all female sports scientists. 

“Gender balance in our industry appears to be improving, however it is important to identify opportunities to increase the number of females in high performance roles and academic leadership roles. In many undergraduate courses, female students make up 50% or more of graduates, yet this does not translate to higher level leadership positions. I am fortunate to work for ACU, who were recently recognised for their commitment to gender equality and were awarded an Employer of Choice for Gender Equality in 2019.” 

Kirsty Rawlings – Rawlings was ESSA’s first female Director to hold an executive role as Vice-President, who then take on the role of ESSA President. Rawlings has been a strategic leader at an executive level and continues to be an inspiration to those around her. 

“My advice to other women is to be confident in putting your hand up for a role, and be prepared to take a risk. Don’t wait until you fit all the aspects of a role perfectly – have a plan to address any gaps or build more experience if required. Seek out a sponsor or mentor to help you with identifying and going after opportunities, and building a successful network. Most of all be ‘you’ – be authentic, and be confident in honouring your voice and vision.” 

“At ESSA we are exploring how we can identify, foster and support women to feel confident to put their hand up for opportunities, and support their belief in their skills and experience – and voice – that they can bring to these opportunities.” 

For more information on International Women’s Day, go to

Related Articles

8th March 2019 - Events website removes men for International Women’s Day

7th March 2019 - Leadership programs launched to challenge gender diversity in Australian sport

12th February 2019 - ESSA releases free eBook outlining the benefits of exercise for women’s health and wellness

27th January 2019 - ESSA urges not to give up on resolutions to get active

21st January 2019 - ESSA emphasises the importance of science in Australian sport 

30th November 2018 - New research highlights ongoing barriers to women in sport leadership

8th March 2018 - ESSA recognises female leaders in exercise and sports science on International Women’s Day

11th January 2018 - Federal Government to provide grants and workshops to develop Women Leaders in Sport

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