Zonta Club of Bendigo celebrates International women's day by honoring local achievers

Members of Bendigo Zonta and 230 guests celebrated International Women’s Day with inspiring keynote speaker Dr. Airlie Chapman, a Mechatronics lecturer at the University of Melbourne and director of its Flight Lab. Dr. Chapman, a strong advocate of STEM education for women, is a two times recipient of the Zonta Amelia Earhart Fellowship and a L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Fellow.

Dr. Chapman explained some of the ways gender inequality affected the design of products, including those intended to improve safety. Using illustrations of room temperature, the size of iPhones, car safety, medications and stab vests for police officers, he revealed that most product developments were always based on the male gender, rather than female physiology and thus created inadvertent bias and safety “gaps” for women. While explaining the need for gender diversity in engineering and STEM as technology increases in our lives, Dr. Chapman noted that if more women involved in the design and development of new products the chances of safety for women being compromised are lessened.

The presentation of the Woman of Achievement award was one of the highlights of the day with former Bendigo Advertiser editor Nicole Ferrie recognized for 2020. Ms. Ferrie was selected for her commitment to creating gender equality through both her career and personal life and as a visionary leader. While accepting the award, Ms. Ferrie spoke of the harms of patriarchy and the need to act. In her own words, she says, "We need to speak up and we need to stop knocking down women who do."

In reference to Dr. Chapman’s speech and the horrific domestic violence and murder rates in Australia, Ms. Ferrie said "Women … are dying because of [patriarchy] in so many ways. We are here together because we've still got so much work to do."

The Zonta Club of Bendigo also celebrated IWD by presenting five scholarships:

  • Alyssa Lai was named the winner of the Zonta Young Women in Public Affairs Award.
  • Sarah Thompson was the recipient of the Jane M. Klausman Women in Business Scholarship.
  • Hser Oh Bue Htoo Lweh won the Gwen Symons scholarship.
  • Kim Hopcott was announced as the Heather Winderlich Nursing Scholarship.
  • Former Young Woman in Public Affairs scholarship recipient Eva Jan received the Ann Horrocks STEM Award from the award's namesake, who is also the president of Zonta Bendigo.