Image: Dr Danielle Ramirez.

Dr Danielle Ramirez is helping reshape women’s education in Australia

“Sometimes you have setbacks. But do it your way” - Monash University academic Dr Danielle Ramirez is helping to reshape women's education in Australia.

Dr Danielle Ramirez finds her path to becoming an educator “rather poetic.” Since around the age of 10, she had always wanted to become a teacher. “I grew up role playing a classroom with my teddies and dolls. I’d do reports for them and mark their attendance,” she laughs. Becoming an educator was a natural path for a young woman who had clearly loved teaching others and researching the world around her from a young age.

After completing her undergraduate studies at Monash University, Dr. Ramirez went on to pursue her Honours, and later considered a PhD. But she says she wanted to be “industry minded,” and develop her skills practically. After spending time in a government agency and the corporate world, she says she “found her legs and understood how to be a professional,” and left with an understanding of different ways of working.

However, the goal to do a PhD constantly remained at the back of her mind. Within six months of working in a new role, she spoke with her direct manager. “She said, ‘What do you have in mind for your professional development?’ And I had the boldness to say, "I want to do a PhD.’

Dr. Ramirez says that the manager responded with “give me a business case, and let's go from there.” She was able to commence her PhD with Monash University on a part-time basis with endorsement from her employer, noting “not many students get that opportunity.” Dr. Ramirez also received an industry scholarship and funding opportunities and acknowledges that it was “not the regular PhD journey."

But then, in the words of Dr. Ramirez, “of course, motherhood came along.” Three years into her PhD, Danielle had her first child and paused her postgraduate studies. She says that once she had her baby, “that’s what I wanted to focus on.” After moving into another corporate position, she decided that she wanted to finish her PhD and resigned from her role.

Fast forward to today’s chat and Dr. Ramirez is now Director, Masters of Project Management and a Senior Teaching Fellow at Monash Business School. In this role, she is committed to advocating for greater flexibility for women, particularly those with children. Online learning plays a pivotal role in this, being a unique opportunity to empower women and foster inclusivity for those whose lifestyles and commitments don’t lend themselves to campus life, such as women juggling motherhood, or women trying to upskill while still working full time.

She says that part of “the reason I engaged in this role with Monash is because I am a woman with kids – and need the flexibility. Women with younger children have more to gain from online study and learning. I’m a big advocate for it because it works for my life.”

One of the forces driving Dr. Ramirez’s advocacy for breaking down barriers for women is her 11-year-old daughter. “She is in grade six and is the school captain,” she says proudly. “As a young woman, I encourage her to change the world and kick goals. I have a generational calling to do that for her.. I love the idea of inspiring women to go for it, to be the best professional they want to be,” she says.

In terms of Project Management, Dr. Ramirez says the field “has traditionally been a male-dominated sector, so it is a joy to offer a course that opens up the profession and its learning to women.

She also emphasises “the flexibility”, explaining “if you’re wanting a career change, if you have children - you have the ability to pivot, move and navigate.”

“Sometimes you have setbacks. But do it your way. You can be the professional you aspire to be - in your timing, around your family, based on your professional goals.”

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