APEC Delegate Patrice Braun: Knowledge Shared is Knowledge Gained

Dr Patrice Braun is the Interim Director of the Centre for Regional Innovation & Competitiveness (CRIC) at the University of Ballarat, which has a focus on sustainable regional development and innovation. Patrice is one of the people I like to keep in touch with. She is always at the cutting edge of women and ICT for Development (ICTD). This is an area I am passionate about, and work in as a manager, an area that has been part of my life for more than 15 years. She developed an interest in the use of ICTD doing a Masters by Research (1997) on the use of the Internet for community informatics. She pursued this theme in her PhD (2003) in ICT-enabled regional network innovation for  SMEs. She is now spearheading the development of an Asia-Pacific Centre for Women & Technology, one of ten globally networked not-for-profit centres to empower and mainstream women in the knowledge economy.

This year Patrice was a member of the Australian delegation, led by Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd, at the 2011 APEC Women and The Economy Summit in San Francisco, where US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton delivered a powerful message that women make a substantial impact on the economy and that more needs to be done to overcome barriers to increase women’s economic participation.

In the final declaration of the conference, the following statement sums our present state of affairs up well regarding women and leadership:

"Studies have identified four major barriers preventing women from rising to leadership positions: organizational obstacles, including a lack of role models and exclusion from informal networks; work-life balance challenges, including travel requirements and long work schedules; institutional mindsets, meaning women are evaluated differently for positions from men; and finally, individual mindsets, due to a lack of positive reinforcement, and peer and senior-level support. We agree that these barriers are problematic not only for women looking to take on more responsibility, but also to the growth and success of the business or organization. It is also important to consider that many of these obstacles come from gender stereotypes related to the heavier load of domestic work and care-giving done by women. Society still sees women as mainly responsible for taking care of the children and maintaining the household, and this can become a restraint for women to enter the labor market and for women-owned SMEs to achieve a better performance."

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