Meet Our Expert Commentators

Meet Our Expert Commentators

These commentators are doing great work in the sector and sharing their insights, expertise, and feedback in our competition discussion forum. We invite you to follow their contributions!

Sonja Bernhardt

Sonja Bernhardt OAM is an Australian information technology industry identity and role model, founder and inaugural president of WiT (Women in Technology), and co-founder and inaugural president of AWISE (Australian Women in IT and Science Entity), two not-for-profit industry groups that run community-based projects and programs that encourage women and girls to pursue careers in technology.

Bernhardt was a consultant to Mincom Limited prior to February 1999, when she established her own software development firm, ThoughtWare Australia. Bernhardt and ThoughtWare have won a string of awards and recognition. Bernhardt is active in supporting women in IT, especially addressing the under-representation of women in technology. Through AWISE and WiT, Bernhardt has been involved in many girl- and women-in-technology perception-altering, awareness-raising, mentoring and role model projects.

In addition, Bernhardt is responsible for a number of high impact (and usually controversial) initiatives that raise the profile of women in technology and break perceptions of technology careers as "nerdy" or "male." They include: the 2007 "Screen Goddess IT Calendar" that featured 20 female role models in poses inspired by famous movies, “IT’s Million $ Babes Award” that recognizes successful Australian female entrepreneurs, and “Doing IT Around the World,” a diary and series of e-booklets that feature the work and lives of 36 women in technology around the world.

Agnes Irwanti

Agnes Irwanti is business strategic and development director as well as co-founder of Multikom Global Mediatama company, and one of the few activist women in Indonesian ICT. Beyond her professional role, she’s committed to bridging the digital gap caused by gender or rural-urban disparity. Irwanti pioneered a movement of knowledge sharing and training for women and marginalized groups to help them utilize ICT to improve their lives.

Together with Ministry of Women Empowerment and Child Protection, Irwanti has spread her program to 15 provinces. Training subjects include basic skills such as introducing the Internet, blogging, and email to small business entrepreneurs, civil servants, and housewives. On the next level, together with Women in Enginering IEEE she introduced also digital marketing for small business and ICT utilization for low cost high impact business strategy. As the result, farmers, fishermen, and women entrepreneurs from rural small business are starting to build connection beyond their locality and expand the market of their products.

Irwanti is also actively involved in ICT for education, including teachers’ ICT training and promoting ICT career path to girl students. For her efforts, she was named the 2011 Most Inspiring Women in Engineering by IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers).

Emily Jacobi

Emily Jacobi is Co-Founder and Executive Director of Digital Democracy, a New York-based nonprofit that works globally to empower marginalized communities to harness technology to fight for their human rights. Beginning her career as a youth journalist, at the age of 13 Emily reported from Havana, Cuba on the lives of young Cubans during the Troubled Period. She has since worked with marginalized communities including migrant workers, women's groups, refugee youth and others on media & technology projects in Latin America, Sub-Saharan Africa, Southeast Asia and the United States. Prior to founding Digital Democracy in 2008 she worked at Internews Network, and Y-Press.

Emily has presented on the intersection of technology, civic engagement and human rights to US Congress, the State Department, the United Nations, and numerous universities and technology conferences. She has written extensively on the role of mobile phones and technology in Burma/Myanmar.