2018 She Leads College – 5 Quick Questions with Karlie Noon

20 March 2018

Jessica Abramovic

Jessica is the Communications and Events Coordinator at YWCA Canberra.

The She Leads College Conference, taking place on Thursday 22 March, is a one-day event for girls in years 11 and 12, equipping participants with the practical skills and knowledge they need to become confident leaders. This year, we have an amazing line-up of inspiring young women who will discuss their pathways as trailblazers. Today, we chat to Karlie Noon, an amazing keynote speaker.

Karlie Noon was the first Indigenous Australian in NSW to obtain a Bachelor of Mathematics, and Bachelor of Science. Since graduating from the University of Newcastle, Karlie is undertaking a Masters of Astronomy and Astrophysics at the Australian National University and the CSIRO. After leaving school in Year 8, Karlie enrolled in TAFE (studying Year 11 Maths as a Year 8 and 9 student) before returning to high school. She is the first person in her immediate family to finish high school and the first person in her extended family to obtain a university degree.

Karlie mentors and tutor’s students in mathematics and science, focusing on low socio-economic and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students. In addition to her master’s research, she researches and is an advocate for Indigenous scientific knowledge and the importance of multiple knowledge systems. Karlie presented at the first Gamilaraay Women’s Healing workshop where approximately 40 Gamilaraay women came from all over Australia to engage in culture and share knowledge. Karlie has a passion for making STEM accessible to people of all different backgrounds.

Describe your leadership journey in 30 words or less. 


A result of a lot of hard work and the support of some deadly Aboriginal people around me.

What was (or is) your biggest leadership challenge? 

Following the path I wanted and not the path others thought was best.

Why do we need more women leaders, and what difference can women in leadership make in terms of gender equality?

We need more diversity in leadership roles whether it be in terms of gender, ability, culture, sexual preference, appearance or socio-economic status. A white, male identifying person placed in a position of power is not a leader and yet this is the definition we’ve been rolling with. The world is a beautifully diverse place and everyone is worthy of equal, non-tokenistic representation.

What book should every aspiring woman leader read? 

Most of the books I read are fiction (100% Robin Hobb) however I read a lot of discourse on oppression, feminism and privilege online. It has helped me become aware of both my privilege and disadvantage and how they position me within this society. It has also helped me become a better ally. I would strongly recommend Rantings of an Aboriginal Feminist and Feminartsy.

Share with us the best piece of advice you’ve been given. 

I asked a mate to proofread something for me and one of his comments was “what is the point”. I am in a very privileged position where I have a choice in what work I do. If the point of my work does not contribute to improving inequality then why bother? My goal has always been to never work on something that only pays the bills and does not empower you and those around you.

To hear more from Karlie Noon, register to attend the She Leads College Conference now. Make sure to also follow She Leads on Facebook and Twitter, and subscribe to our monthly newsletter.

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