Hey SydStart, looking for female conference speakers? Here are almost 50 women you could call for starters – StartupSmart

All-male panels have become an all too common sight.


Recently we’ve seen one of Australia’s biggest startup conferences, SydStart, announce its first round of speakers without any women featured, although they’re promising there are female entrepreneurs to come.


It’s a problem in the industry that some are starting to address, with a call to “hack” all-male panels by men giving up their seats to women. This happened recently at a panel in Cardiff, with Andrew Grill switching seats with a female entrepreneur in the audience.


Pollenizer partnerships manager Nicola Farrell was one of the first to respond to SydStart’s male lineup, and later forwarded on a list of potential female speakers to the organisers.


She says it’s disappointing to continually see a lack of women at tech conferences.


“It’s quite disheartening from someone in the industry to not be represented in conferences,” Farrell says.


“There’s no reason for me to be part of that sort of event then.


“Conferences need participation from all types of people in the community.


“To launch an event without a substantially diverse list is not good enough.”


There is a wealth of female entrepreneurs to draw on for startup conferences, and many in the Australian scene have begun to suggest names that should be appearing at upcoming conferences.


“There are many female entrepreneurs that we want to hear from. People like me want to hear their stories,” she says.


We thought we’d help out and produce a list of potential speakers. With just a little research, some help from our friends over at Women’s Agenda, and a few chats with the right people, it didn’t take very long at all.


It’s certainly not close to a conclusive list, but it’s a start. It’s mostly Australian with a few internationals that we’d love to hear speak. If you have any suggestions to be added to the list be sure to let us know and we’ll add them.


  • Annie Parker – co-founder of muru-D and chariman of CodeClub Australia.
  • Bridget Loudon – founder of Expert360
  • Bronwen Clune – head of content at Culture Amp and StartupSmart editor-at-large.
  • Catherine Eibner – chief startup advisor at BlueChilli
  • Dr Catriona Wallace – founder of Flamingo and The Ventura
  • Cindy Gallop – CEO of IfWeRanTheWorld
  • Clare Hallam – startup operations specialist, formerly of Pollenizer.
  • Collette Grgic – startup advisor at BlueChilli
  • Cyan Ta’eed ­– co-founder and executive director of Envato
  • Danae Ringelmann – founder and chief development officer at Indiegogo
  • Danielle Morrill – co-founder and CEO of MatterMark
  • Demi Markogiannaki – co-founder of WeTeachMe
  • Elaine Stead – investment director at BlueSky Venture Capital
  • Erika Geraerts, Jess Hatzis, Bree Johnson – founders of Frank Body
  • Gen George – founder of OneShift
  • Grace Chu – founder of First Click Consulting
  • Heide Roizen – co-founder of T/Maker, Silicon Valley executive and venture capitalist
  • Kate Kendall and Shala Burroughs – co-founders of CloudPeeps
  • Dr Jana Matthews – board member at StartupAUS, ANZ Growth director and CEO of the Jana Matthews group
  • Jane Lu – founder of Showpo
  • Joanna Weidenmiller – CEO of 1-Page
  • Julia Hartz – co-founder and president of Eventbrite
  • Kar Mei Tang – head of policy and research at the Australian Private Equity and Venture Capital Association
  • Laura McKenzie – CEO of Scale Investors
  • Laura Klein – author of UX for Lean Startups
  • Lauran Hall – founder and CEO of Ivvy
  • Margaret Zhang – founder of Shine by Three
  • Michelle Bourke – board member at Startup Victoria 
  • Rachel Neumann – managing director of Eventbrite Australia.
  • Rashmi Sinha – co-founder and CEO of SlideShare 
  • Richenda Vermeulen – Startup Victoria Female Founders committee member and founder of Ntegrity.
  • Sandra Mau – founder of Trademark Vision
  • Sarah Lewis – author of The Rise: Creativity, the Gift of Failure, and the Search for Mastery
  • Sarah Moran, Tammy Butow, Lisy Kane – co-founders of Geek Girl Academy
  • Stacey Jacobs – founder of TidyMe
  • Susan Oliver, Annette Kimmett, Carol Schwartz – founders of Scale Investors 
  • Susan Wu – Stripe Australia
  • Tracy Dinunzio – founder and CEO of Tradesy
  • Zoe Pointon – co-founder of OpenAgent.com.au


UPDATE: Thanks to everyone who sent suggestions through. We really appreciate it. Below you’ll find some more speaker recommendations from the fantastic #startupaus community.


  • Naz Khadem – co-founder PropellHer
  • Caroline Trotman – co-founder Swipe, deputy vice chancellor at Macquarie University.
  • Claire McGregor – co-founder AppBot.
  • Vanessa Picker  – co-founder FitUsIn
  • Lauren McLeod – co-Founder Flightfox
  • Felicity Millman – founder Circadyn
  • Holly Cardew – founder Pixc
  • Dr Deborah Kuchler – PhD in Satellite Imagine Technology and a health startup expert. Advisor to Health-Innovate.
  • Jo Burston – founder Inspiring Rare Birds
  • Rebekah Campbell – founder Posse
  • Jessica Wilson – founder Stashd
  • Theresa Lim – founder Play2lead
  • Lauren Silvers – founder Glamazon
  • Lana Hopkins – founder of Mon Purse
  • Ambika Malvia – founder of OzCompare and director Tie Sydney.
  • Dr Katherine Woodthorpe – former CEO AVCAL
  • Naomi Simson – founder Red Balloon
  • Nikki Durkin – founder 99 Dresses (inactive)
  • Angela Clark – ABC director of Innovation, founder of EveryMap.com.au and Streetcorner.com.au (both now inactive).
  • Marita Cheng – founder 2Mar Robotics and Robogals
  • Liz Kaelin – founder You Chews
  • Rachel Bui – community manager muru-D
  • Cate Hull – co-founder FreightExchange
  • Jemma Xu and Yiyi Wang – co-founders Tripalocal
  • Annie Slattery – founder ConX
  • Bec Lloyd – co-founder Your School Profile
  • Anne-Marie Birkill – partner and executive director One Ventures
  • Melissa Widner – venture partner OneVentures
  • Dr Michelle Deaker – managing director and CEO One Ventures
  • Jessica May – co-founder Enabled Employment
  • Jodie Fox – co-founder Shoes of Prey
  • Cath Rogers – investment manager at AirTree Ventures
  • Sharon Melamed – founder Matchboard and FindaConsultant
  • Natasha Prasad – founder FitSessions



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