Woman in Innovation: Kate MacMaster
"It has to be us, and it has to be now."

Each Wednesday we interview women in our community about innovation and what drives them to make a difference in their industries everyday!

Why is innovation important to you?
Because issues faced in remote and regional Australia are so different from those faced by urban dwellers, particularly for women. We need different approaches to enable women to make their own choices about work, life, family, culture, self, resilience, health, creativity and change. We need not to have to ask for permission to create change. If we want the kind of society that enables women to have choices about their lives, we can’t wait for others to do it, we can’t wait for permission, and we can’t be afraid of risk or failure. At Trader & Co. in Yass, we are creating spaces for people, focusing on women in particular, to meet, share, create, by creating spaces for opportunity, co-working, conversations and creativity.

What drives you to make a difference?
Opportunity to do things differently! In a world of disruption, innovation, collaborations and participatory democracy on the rise, it is inspiring to work with others in order to drive change at a scale where I can see impact. IMPACT. It is all about this for me at the end – identifying the ‘so what’ around initiatives and trying new things in different ways in spaces that are bound by clear values alignment around compassion and inclusion. It we want things to change, if we want a bright and sustainable future for our kids, we can’t wait for others to create it. It has to be us, and it has to be now. So through Trader & Co. we are piloting a number of initiatives around social inclusion and empowerment (supporting refugees, women leaving domestic violence, co-work spaces, business start-ups, creative enterprises, community members with dreams and more), education on the critical issues that face our time (e.g. climate change) and simply bringing conversations to rural Australia that we normally don’t get access to like people in the ‘big smoke’.

Do you have any advice for getting more women into the innovation ecosystem?
Women need opportunity to connect with others – to chat and engage in conversation in order to learn and find ideas that might be applicable to them. Women are SO creative, innovative and driven – and we have seen numerous start-ups, all driven by women, simply because we have created a physical space for women to meet, share, create. Like a yoga collective. Like a wellness centre. Like a creative start-up for women entering into small business. Like a pop-up restaurant supporting recently settled migrant women in Canberra. Like business mentoring and offering a space for a market stall for women refugees, entering the workforce. All this we have done in 10 months. So physical spaces and connecting with other women and having conversations are critical. Keep learning and sharing. And self-belief.

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