Skip links and keyboard navigation

    Media Statements

    Coat of ArmsMedia Release
    Minister for Community Services and Housing and Minister for Women
    The Honourable Karen Struthers

    Gold Coast IT professional wins women’s award

    Minister for Community Services and Housing and Minister for Women
    The Honourable Karen Struthers

    Tuesday, November 10, 2009

    Gold Coast IT professional wins women’s award

    A Gold Coast business woman has been awarded for her outstanding contribution to supporting and encouraging other women into science, engineering and technology.

    Minister for Women Karen Struthers presented the Our Women, Our State Awards during a ceremony in Brisbane.

    Sonja Bernhardt, Chief Executive Officer of software development house, ThoughtWare, was named the winner of the Industry or Business Award.

    “Successful business women like Sonja lead by example and inspire other women who might otherwise not have considered a non-traditional career such as information and communication technology (ICT),” Ms Struthers said.

    “It is wonderful to see women with such a passion not only excelling in their own careers, but offering their time and energy to support others to get involved.”

    The number of Queensland women working in full-time ICT occupations doubled between 1997 and 2007 due to the sector’s rapid overall expansion. However, the actual proportion of women rose just one per cent from 17 to 18 per cent during the same period.

    “I urge other young women to explore the many different opportunities the engineering profession and the aviation industry have to offer,” Ms Struthers said.

    The Our Women, Our State Awards were presented across eight categories recognising and rewarding Queensland girls and women who have made positive contributions to advancing women in traditionally male-dominated industries.

    Sonja, who was selected from a highly competitive field of nominees and finalists from across the State, received $3000 in prize money, a trophy and certificate.

    The Industry or Business Award was sponsored by IMBcom and The Institute for Molecular Bioscience.

    Two other women from south east Queensland were also recognised in the Industry or Business Award category. They are:

    ·Highly commended – Alison Keogh of Closeburn, Brisbane

    ·Highly commended – Sam Sheppard of Caloundra, Sunshine Coast.

    “I congratulate these women for their time, energy and commitment to shaping the future of tomorrow’s Queensland by encouraging other women into science, engineering and technology,” Ms Struthers said.

    “Apart from providing a very public opportunity to say thank you, these awards promote the winners as role models to inspire other girls and women to pursue their ambitions, regardless of any pre-conceived stereotypes.

    “They demonstrate how women can lead the way in making tomorrow’s Queensland a fairer and smarter State, by supporting more women to study and work in non-traditional careers.

    “The awards also help to boost employer and industry awareness about the knowledge, skills and new perspectives women can bring to these industries.”

    The Our Women, Our State Awards complement the Bligh Government’s Toward Q2 ambitions for a smarter Queensland by encouraging more women to attain trade, training or tertiary qualifications.

    For more information about the Our Women, Our State Awards, visit the Office for Women’s website at or phone Women’s Infolink on 1800 177 577.

    Media Inquiries: Minister’s Office 3235 4286


    Industry or Business Award

    Ms Sonja Bernhardt of Helensvale, Gold Coast

    As CEO and Director of Gold Coast-based software development house, ThoughtWare, Sonja stands out from the pack with her passion and enthusiasm for helping women and girls in ICT.

    She was the founder and inaugural President of Women in Technology (WiT) and also co-founded Australian Women in IT, Science and Engineering (AWISE), two not-for-profit industry groups that run community-based projects and programs to encourage women and girls into technology careers.

    Her ongoing support of WiT includes personal sponsorship of industry programs and providing assistance with fundraising activities.

    She is a motivational leader who is generous in volunteering her time and knowledge to mentor and coach young women in the ICT industry and the wider community. This has included being an e-mentor for the Association of Professional Engineers, Scientists and Managers Australia for the past six years.

    Sonja also holds a number of board and executive appointments – locally, nationally and internally, providing inspiration to others of the positive contributions women can make in both business and the ICT field.

    Sonja can be contacted on 07 5502 8236 or 0416 248 236.