Work with Purpose | Episode #80 | 27 March 2023

EPISODE #80 | Empowering women in the workplace: Why mentoring matters

Despite greater flexibility and more opportunities, the recent International Women’s Day has again reminded Australians that gender equity still has some way to go. The country’s gender pay gap persists, and women are still underrepresented in leadership positions according to the Workplace Gender Equality Agency.

One of the ways workplaces and women themselves are trying to turn the tide, is to offer and actively engage in mentoring. On this episode, guest host and Institute of Public Administration Australia ACT CEO Caroline Walsh speaks with two inspirational female leaders, Tania Rishniw, Deputy Secretary, Primary and Community Care Group, at the Department of Health and Aged Care, and Nina Davidson, Deputy Director-General Intelligence at the Office of National Intelligence about how mentoring can benefit women during their careers, and what a great mentoring relationship should look like.

Tania, Nina, and Caroline also speak about some of the women that inspired them, including the influential Dr Margot McCarthy, who championed women through coaching and mentoring until her recent passing in 2022. Margot was the first female national security advisor, a leader in social policy and a founder of the APS Academy.

Discussed in this episode:

  • Honesty, openness, and listening as key ingredients for good mentoring
  • Margot McCarthy’s fierce leadership and support for other women
  • Overcoming self-censorship as a woman
  • Empowering and amplifying women’s voices



Tania Rishniw
Tania is currently the Deputy Secretary of the Primary and Community Care Group in the Department of Health and Aged Care, and is responsible for leading the department’s work on policies and programs relating to mental health, primary care, population health, prevention, and cancer screening. Tania first joined the Department of Health in 2015. With a background in social, environmental and economic policy, Tania has more than 20 years of experience as a leader in the Australian public service.

Nina Davidson
Nina Davidson joined the Office of National Intelligence as Deputy Director-General Intelligence in October 2021. From 2015 to 2021, Nina was head of office of the Australian government’s Productivity Commission – responsible for the overall management of the commission’s work across its research, reporting and advisory functions and its corporate enabling functions.



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