Women account for just 3% of CEO roles on NZX-listed companies; only 3% of venture capital funding goes to women and a mere 3% of New Zealand’s 15-year-old girls are pursuing a career in technology.
For Alexia Hilbertidou (pictured left), Founder and Director of GirlBoss New Zealand, these figures are unacceptably low and she has set herself a mission to change them. With a rapidly growing network of some 10,500 people behind her, she is already making her mark on the business world and has become a sought-after public speaker on her work with GirlBoss NZ.
Auckland-based Alexia is aged 19 and her full-time job is encouraging young women to pursue their interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) subjects. She has been named a Westpac Woman of Influence, has been a Leadership Facilitator with NZ Air Force and was the recipient of the 2018 Queen’s Young Leader Award for Services to the Commonwealth.
Alexia explained she started GirlBoss NZ as a school project when she was 16 and it has now taken off to the point where she employs two full-time staff.
“I was the only girl in my Digital Technology and Advanced Physics classes and I was concerned that young women were opting out of these challenging, future-focused fields due to misconceptions of difficulty and a lack of role models and community,” she said “I looked for a network for other young women who were trying to make it in traditionally male fields and I couldn’t find any. So I started my own.
“I did not anticipate that I would end up working full-time on my organisation once I finished school but here I am. I am completely challenged and fulfilled by my work and I am working for a purpose larger than myself. What more could I ask for?”
The GirlBoss network is mostly comprised of 11- to 18-year-old girls from New Zealand. Alexia explained that supporters also included parents and corporate partners, and as such, it had female and male membership.
For the past two years there has also been an Australian chapter - www.changemakeher.com - run by students at Brisbane State High School.
“We hope GirlBoss will help to see more women into higher leadership positions, entrepreneurship and STEM areas, fields in which they can make a significant impact and thrive socially and economically,” Alexia said. “I am driven by a desire to see the power positions in society be based on merit - both in terms of skill and character. I am strongly motivated by fairness. I believe that if ambitious young women were to unleash their full confidence and resilience then they can and should be there at that top table.