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First Indigenous woman to receive a PhD in entrepreneurship

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Dr Sonya Pearce with her family at her graduation.
Dr Sonya Pearce with her family at her graduation.
1 Jul 2016

Sonya Pearce, a Gooreng Gooreng woman from Brisbane, who resides in Sydney, is the first Indigenous woman to receive a PhD in entrepreneurship.

Her PhD focussed on Indigenous women entrepreneurs, which came about almost by accident.

“I have always been interested in Aboriginal women and children’s rights and development,” said Sonya.

“While participating in a national study of Indigenous entrepreneurs, I was encouraged by the research group to apply for a research grant. Everything fell in place from there.”

Sonya hopes that her achievement inspires others and draws attention to the experiences of Indigenous entrepreneurs.

“Being the first Aboriginal woman to receive a PhD in entrepreneurship means a lot to me and I hope it inspires others to achieve their dreams,” Sonya said.

“Through my PhD, I want to hold a light to social and economic issues that impact on our people.”

Her PhD found there are equal numbers of Indigenous women and men involved in start-ups, but that women are still the main caregivers in the family. As a result, Indigenous women entrepreneurs often take longer to establish their business and rely a lot more on the support of their families.

Sonya’s next project will look at how supporting children and youth to become entrepreneurs may also support their personal development.

Sonya graduated from the University of Technology Sydney Business School and her research was funded by an Australian Research Council Indigenous research grant. 

Find out more

The Australian Research Council’s mission is to deliver policy and programmes that advance Australian research and innovation globally and benefit the community.

The Discovery Indigenous scheme provides funding to support research programs led by an Indigenous Australian researcher and build research capacity of higher degree research and early career researchers.

Thinking of becoming an Indigenous business owner? The Indigenous Business Australia’s Business Development and Assistance Program Aboriginal people to access the skills, knowledge and resources required to start and grow a viable, sustainable business. 

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