Sonja Bernhardt presenting at WITI
(Silicon Valley, 2005)
1959 (age 54–55)
|Known for||Leadership in Australian and international promotion of women in IT especially the under-representation of women in technology|
|Religion||None and Objectivist|
|Children||Naomi (1982), Tom (1984) and Kira (2003)|
Sonja Bernhardt OAM is an Australian information technology industry identity extensively involved in mentoring and role model programs for women in IT. She was founder and Inaugural President of WiT (Women in Technology) in Queensland in 1997 and co founder and Inaugural President of AWISE (Australian Women in IT, Science and Engineering) in 2005, not for profit industry groups that run community based projects and programs specifically to encourage women and girls into technology careers. In addition, Bernhardt is responsible for a number of initiatives to raise the profile of women in technology and break perceptions of technology careers as "nerdy" or "male", such as the 2007 Screen Goddess IT Calendar, IT's Million $ Babes Awards and Doing IT Around the World.
Sonja Bernhardt (born 1959 in Launceston, Tasmania) was employed as a consultant by Mincom Limited prior to February 1999 when she established her own software development firm – ThoughtWare Australia. Bernhardt was the first Australian inducted into the WITI (Women in Technology International) Hall of Fame (2005) and was awarded an Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for service to the IT community in 2011.
Bernhardt is active in the area of supporting women in IT especially addressing the under-representation of women in technology, and towards these goals both founded WiT in Queensland and co-founded AWISE, a national Australia umbrella group. Through AWISE and WiT Bernhardt has been involved in many girl and women in technology perception altering, awareness raising, mentoring and role model projects. For example, Go Girl - Go For IT and the Board Readiness Program. Bernhardt herself has been featured as a female role model by both the Queensland Government and Australian Government.
In addition Bernhardt initiated voluntary community projects including the controversial "Screen Goddess IT Calendar", which featured 20 female role models in poses inspired by famous movies, “IT’s Million $ Babes Award” recognising successful Australian female entrepreneurs, and “Doing IT Around the World”, a diary and series of e-booklets featuring the work and lives of 36 women in technology covering all continents around the world on 11 August (chosen as the date Hedy Lamarr was awarded the spread spectrum patent) 2008.
Bernhardt has held several positions in the women and technology and IT policy community, including:
- 2010 Technical committee invited member of the ACIITC (Aged Care Industry Information Technology Council)
- 2009 Foundation Member of ACIVA (Aged Care IT Vendors Association)
- 2008 Regional Coordinator for the Asia Pacific Centre for Women and Technology (1 of 10 regional centres forming a global hub for Women and technology)
- 2007 Member of APEC Digital Forum committee (role is to seek solutions for APEC economies re: Building a sustainable e-future
- 2007 Appointed to the UN supported International Taskforce for Women and ICT’s (vision is to promote communication and information exchange; increase sharing of research, knowledge, and resources; develop a series of collaborative activities; and promote recommendations for policy and programming – globally)
- 2004-2005 Member of Federal ICT Summit Advisory Group - this group reported directly to the national Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts
- 2003-2005 Appointed to Australian Government's Business Higher Education Round Table (B-HERT) - science & technology careers taskforce
- 1998-2004 Appointed to the Queensland Government ICT Ministerial Advisory Group – Industry Development – this group reported directly to the Minister and provided IT policy advice.
Awards and recognition
Bernhardt's volunteer work in IT especially for increasing the career takeup and profile of women in technology has been recognised by:
- WITI (Women in Technology International) Hall of Fame (2005)
- Optus ICT Achievement Award (2009)
- Queensland Government "Our Women, Our State" Awards - Industry or Business Category (2009)
- Listings in multiple Australian Who’s Who publications
- Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for services to the IT industry (2011)
Bernhardt's publications include:
- Women in IT in the New Social Era: A Critical Evidence-Based Review of Gender Inequality and the Potential for Change (2014). In this academic book, Bernhardt argues that major issues no longer exist for women in technology careers and most of the numerical deficit is due to personal choice, while the few remaining barriers will be eliminated by the new Social Era.
- IT Workers: Human Capital Issues in a Knowledge-Based Environment (2006: Information Age Publishing). Bernhardt co-authored a chapter of this book titled "Employment Sharing for IT Micro and Small Business."
- The Encyclopedia of Gender and Information Technology Bernhardt wrote a chapter for this encyclopedia: “Boards, IT Skills and Women - the Australian Context.”
- Regular contributor to The Education Technology Guide (published by the Australian Media Group). Topics have covered gender and ICT, ICT on school boards and nanotechnology.
- Regular speaker on ABC Local Radio (most regularly on 91.7 ABC Coast FM) discussing a range of technology and women in technology issues.
- Technology Diva's Top Tech Tips for Your Business: an interview with the Australian Businesswomen's Network (2009)
- Walters, Kath (27 July 2006). "Why Women are Shunning IT". BRW. p. 30.
- WIT (2006). "About Us". Women In Technology. Retrieved 2008-10-01.
- Foreshew, Jennifer (14 June 2005). "Tech women go national". The Australian IT. Retrieved 2008-09-24.
- "Sonja Bernhardt: putting women first in IT". 2011. Retrieved 2013-10-26.
- Who's Who of Australian Women. Crown Content. 2009. ISBN 1740953517.
- Lefroy, Marj (30 January 2008). "Flexibility is the key to win workers". The Age. Retrieved 2008-09-24.
- WITI (2005). "WITI Hall of Fame - Sonja Bernhardt". Retrieved 2008-10-01.
- Foreshew, Jennifer (8 November 2005). "Bernhardt wins place in hall of fame". Australian IT. Retrieved 2008-10-01.
- "IT gender equality advocate receives Australia Day honour". Computerworld. 26 January 2011. Retrieved 2011-01-26.
- Hendry, Andrew (14 November 2007). "AWISE change of guard leading women into IT future". ComputerWorld. Retrieved 2008-10-01.
- "About Go Girl". Retrieved 2008-10-01.
- "Women in Technology win with Board Readiness Program". 2010-03-08.
- Queensland Government (2007). "Profiles of Queensland Women in Hard Hats - Sonja Bernhardt". Archived from the original on 2008-07-19. Retrieved 2008-10-01.
- Commonwealth of Australia (2007). "Women Entrepreneurs. 18 Inspiring Tales of Small Business Success". ISBN 1-921130-31-8. Retrieved 2008-10-02.
- Bushell-Embling, Dylan (5 October 2007). "Organisers put kibosh on 2008 IT Goddess Calendar". ComputerWorld. Retrieved 2008-10-01.
- Moses, Asher (23 January 2008). "Breaking through the silicon ceiling". The Age. Retrieved 2008-10-01.
- Hendry, Andrew (16 September 2008). "Worldwide initiative tracks women in IT". Computerworld Careers. Retrieved 2008-10-01.
- Bernhardt, Sonja (2007). "Brief Bio - Sonja Bernhardt". Retrieved 2008-10-02.
- Staff Writers (8 March 2005). "Feds line up women for ICT summit". ZDNet Australia. Retrieved 2008-10-04.
- "Membership - ICT Ministerial Advisory Group". Retrieved 2008-10-01.
- Formerly the CIAB, the board advising the government on its Communication and Information Strategic Plan
- "Women in Technology use their 20-20 vision". Business Acumen. 7 September 2009. Retrieved 2009-11-15.
- "Great scientific achievements by women in history". Australian Anthill. 7 September 2009. Retrieved 2009-11-15.
- "Gold Coast IT professional wins women’s award". Queensland Government Ministerial Media Statements. 10 November 2009. Retrieved 2009-11-15.
- Who's Who in Queensland. Crown Content. 2007. ISBN 1740951484.
- Who's Who in Tasmania. Crown Content. 2008. ISBN 1740953444.
- "Locals awarded Order of Australia Medal". Gold Coast Bulletin. 26 January 2011. p. 4. Retrieved 2011-01-26.