Australia's 3rd Largest Economy

COUNT HER IN: Exclusive Interview with Amanda Rose

04-Mar-2024 15:30 | Cassidy Lau (Administrator)

UN Women Australia has announced its theme of International Women’s Day 2024 as: Count Her In: Accelerating Gender Equality Through Economic Empowerment. At the Western Sydney Business Connection we wholeheartedly embrace this theme! We present, in collaboration with Westgate Executive Search, a leadership interview series featuring six influential women in our region. With an exclusive article each day leading up to the 8th of March, we celebrate prominent female leaders shaping Western Sydney's business, social and economic landscape. Explore their perspectives, experiences, and commitment to diversity and inclusion.

In our second feature article, we delve into the experiences that ignited a passion for advocacy in Amanda Rose, Founder of Western Sydney Women. From facing socio-economic disadvantages to challenging negative perceptions, Amanda shares her inspiring journey of empowering women in the region. Read on as we explore her vision for change and future of Women in Western Sydney.

Amanda Rose

Entrepreneur and Advocate for Women in Business

Amanda Rose (#BossLady) is an advocate for women in business, a media commentator, keynote speaker and an entrepreneur. Appearing weekly on Sunrise and SkyNews and contributing regularly to the Australian Financial Review, the Daily Telegraph and SmartCompany, Amanda applies compassionate critical thinking to disseminate complex issues affecting everyday Australians. Amanda is the Founder and CEO of Entrepreneurial & Small Business Women Australia (ESBWA) and the Founder and CEO of Western Sydney Women. As a mentor and advisor to women in executive roles and SMEs, Amanda is known for her strategic, practical approach to leadership and business.

Jacqueline Clements: This year, the theme the UN has chosen for International Women's Day is 'Count her In.' Against this backdrop, could you share the experiences that inspired you to become an advocate for women in Western Sydney?

Amanda Rose: My drive to advocate for women in the region and eventually founding my organisation Western Sydney Women, came from seeing the socio-economic disadvantages and the prejudice that stemmed from simply being born and working in Western Sydney. I found that girls and women here didn’t have access to the same resources as people on the other side of Sydney. There was this prejudice that you had no ambition, that you didn't care. And I found this quite oppressive. I simply had enough of the disadvantage and wanted women to have the freedom to pursue their aspirations without facing unfair judgement based on their birthplace or workplace.

My own experience growing up was an important drive too. I come from a working class family and you don't realise how much people dismiss you until you say you are from Western Sydney or that you are working class. I can only imagine what it must be like for those who are immigrants as well. When I told people that I went to school in Regents Park or Greenacre, they had no idea where this was and derogatorily called me a ‘Westie’. Luckily I was encouraged from a young age to take on the world and now I’m proud to be a ‘Westie’. But it doesn’t take away that I felt humiliated many times by people frowning upon where I came from or saying I had done well for myself.

While it is hard to change the negative perceptions and prejudice of those outside of the region, I decided that I could inspire and encourage those living here. Empower them to be proud of where they came from. Given that Western Sydney is witnessing the largest investment in New South Wales, and with everyone competing for a slice of the money, it is disheartening to see the persistent and widespread disadvantages across many pockets of our community. I decided to address the disadvantage through various avenues, such as events, programs, and advocacy. It is all aimed at empowering women, giving them a voice, and ensuring they achieve economic independence, whatever that means to them. That is in short the backdrop for founding Western Sydney Women, now eight years ago. I have since expanded advocating for women on a national scale, through founding an organisation called Entrepreneurial & Small Business Women in Australia.

J: What opportunities do you see for advancing women in Western Sydney and what are the changes that will need to take place?

A: Obviously there are lots of jobs available, but women still face barriers in accessing these opportunities. Some women might need flexible work arrangements, or they might need upskilling. Childcare is important for many women. Without it they won’t be able to work or study, obtaining the required skills for these jobs. We need the government and large corporations to make an effort in this space. We also need to change the narrative in Western Sydney. It shouldn’t matter whether you are a male or a female. Equal opportunity is about providing access to work for migrants, generational Australians and women. This will make a tremendous difference in the community.

I can’t shake the impression that many organisations only pay attention to women when there are staff shortages. Only then they realise there are issues with childcare, with women carrying so much more of the burden at home. They suddenly understand we have not sufficiently addressed these challenges. It requires a cultural shift. Luckily the number of women in management roles is increasing. They understand the barriers and are often willing to do something about it. Change is happening, but it’s happening at a snail's pace.

Unfortunately we are often discouraged talking about these issues. But raising awareness without fear of what people say is important. Negatively labelling the raising of issues is just deflection, showing that the boys club is real. Women who are interested in higher positions are often overlooked for someone's mate, and that is a cultural problem. We now have all these educated women, all these women with experience and passion who are missing out, which means companies are missing out.

J: Mentoring often comes up as a tool in creating equal opportunities for women. You are a mentor yourself. Can you explain why mentoring is so often proposed as a career accelerator for women?

A: The reality is that men have mentors by default. They might not explicitly call them mentors, but they have easy access to advice. When they don’t know something they pick up the phone, call their father’s friend, or ask a more experienced colleague at work. They are naturally surrounded by wisdom, advice and connections. Whereas in my experience, women often don’t ask for help, worried that they are not good enough. The consequence is that they miss out on opportunities.

I learned that mentoring is a way to even the playing field, to make sure that women have access to that wisdom, to that advice. This could for example be encouraging a girl to go to university and eventually running her own business. Or it could be encouraging someone in a corporate role who believes she can’t get a promotion. To me mentoring means empowering someone to use their skills and tap into what they already know in order to succeed in the workplace or at school.

My advice to women is to ask more people for help, not necessarily through a formal mentorship, but reaching out and asking others for their opinion and wisdom. And mix it up. Don't just ask that one person but create a network of people. I would also encourage everyone to become a mentor and embrace helping others. It doesn’t matter what level you are at, everyone has something to teach to someone else.

J: You are organising a large Summit on the ‘Future of Women in Western Sydney’ on the 8th of March. Can you tell a bit more about this event and can people still sign up for it?

A: We are organising the Summit now for the second time and it is the signature event of Western Sydney Women. It's the first of its kind. So often we see International Women's Day events that are just courtesy or a tick box. We aspire with this summit to have a substantial event with a serious dialogue. An event that highlights key female players and discusses the issues and opportunities for women in Western Sydney as well as the changes we would like to see happen.

It is a platform for people to share their visions, their experiences and their insights in what is needed for women in the region. Are we approaching it in the right way? Are we addressing key issues such as transport and entrepreneurship effectively? We want to spotlight remarkable women who have achieved success, making the voices heard of those who quietly drive progress within organisations. Women often don’t call out their achievements, so we need to do that on their behalf. This event encourages conversation and connections across different industries and different organisations. We even have schools attending. If you want to learn more about what's really happening in Western Sydney, what women are really doing behind the scenes, this is the event to go to.

For more information, visit our website -

Presented in collaboration with:

By Jacqueline Clements
CEO, Westgate Executive Search

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