Head Brewer, 29
Agi Gajic isn’t a “female brewer”; she’s a “brewer”. The 29-year-old, who has been in the beer industry for over five years, is often asked about being a woman in the field. “It’s a male-dominated industry, but calling me a female brewer feels like it creates self-deprecation,” says Gajic, who trained at Young Henrys in Sydney’s Newtown before becoming head brewer at Adelaide’s Sparkke Change Beverage Company – a craft brewery “with a social conscience” – in 2016.
After falling in love with beer while studying philosophy and sustainable development at university, Gajic says she started home-brewing, “Then I knocked on doors and harassed breweries until someone gave me an assistant brewer job.”
For Gajic, strong female role models have been key. “When I started out, I worked with a brewer who had 15 years’ experience and she helped me realise I could do these things that I’d never been taught to do,” she says. “Feeling enabled and empowered is very important. I just hope gender constructs can be broken down as time goes on, and [more] women can get into roles that aren’t typically defined as female.”
Motor Journalist, 33
It’s just a normal day in the office for Noelle Faulkner. Blue flames are shooting out of the million-dollar Lamborghini she’s test-driving on Victoria’s Great Ocean Road. It’s a career highlight for Faulkner, a self-confessed revhead who grew up at her family’s car dealership and dreamt of being a mechanic. Instead, she got into writing and has been a motor journalist for more than three years. In that time, Faulkner has driven a Ferrari through Italy and an Aston Martin through snow elds in New Zealand, and believes a female perspective on driving is long overdue. “Women’s voices are desperately needed in the car world,” she says. “The industry is very welcoming to women. Everyone says, ‘We need more women.’”
Perhaps if there were more women, there would be less mansplaining. Faulkner says she often receives “bullshit comments” from men who think women only care about boot space. “Once a man tried to tell me how to take a corner, not realising that I’ve done [professional] driver training,” says Faulkner, who also gets unsolicited messages from men on Instagram with feedback on her articles.
Having thick skin is essential, she says. “It can be intimidating being the only woman in a room full of men. You need to know your shit.”
Global Head of Rock at Spotify, 38
When Allison Hagendorf is backstage at a gig, people often assume she’s the singer’s girlfriend. Their tone changes quite quickly when she’s introduced as the global head of rock at Spotify – one of the most prestigious roles in music.
Having worked in the industry for more than 17 years, Hagendorf is accustomed to shattering stereotypes. “Even though there’s very few women in the rock scene, I’ve never really thought too much about gender roles. I’m a proud, fierce woman – and I think I command respect because I view myself as an equal,” she says.
Last year, the top five most streamed tracks on Spotify were all by men. Hagendorf is passionate about promoting women in rock and recently launched a playlist called #WCE (Woman Crush Everyday). “It’s all the new badass females you need to listen to,” she says, listing Australian Tash Sultana as one of her current favourites.
Hagendorf’s advice for women wanting to break into rock is to create their own opportunities. “I grew up watching American Bandstand with my mother and I remember thinking presenting new artists – like Dick Clark did – would be the coolest job ever. Now I’m doing a version of that,” she says. “If you don’t see a path, create one. This is your story – make it great.”
Rugby League Player, 26
Growing up in the small town of Helensburgh, south of Sydney, Sam Bremner desperately wanted to play rugby league – but her mum didn’t want her playing a contact sport with boys. “Back then, there weren’t girls’ teams,” says Bremner, who decided to start her own team when she was 19 after seeing an ad for a local women’s competition.
After 10 months of playing, the NSW women’s coach begged her to play for the state. At rst she said no; “I didn’t believe in myself and I was afraid of failing.” It was Bremner’s mum who told her daughter to back herself. “Ironically, my mum, who was hesitant to let me play as a kid, drove me to my first game.”
Having played for Australia’s Harvey Norman Jillaroos for seven years, Bremner is regarded as one of
the country’s best players. Since starting out, she’s seen the male-dominated game come a long way. This year, the NRL is introducing a women’s competition and Harvey Norman has launched Team Harvey Junior to encourage young girls in sport. “This year, girls will be able to see women playing rugby league on TV. If 12-year-old me had that, I think my journey would have been different.”