Cecilia Watmelik uses technology to improve PNG education and urges women to enter the field

Thursday, April 20, 2023
< Back to News & Stories

Papua New Guinean WLI participant Cecilia Watmelik is a proud advocate for women and girls in information and communication technology (ICT) who knows how to use technology to improve program delivery and public access to vital services like education.

Currently undertaking her Master of Information Systems at Central Queensland University, Cecilia has rolled out national programs to support the education sector and the global shift to learning and teaching online over her decade-long career in the public sector.

In 2023, Cecilia joined the Women’s Developmental Leadership Program to connect with like-minded women leaders, promote the participation of girls and women in ICT, and advocate widely for the use of technology to support positive development in PNG’s public and private sectors.

Using technology to improve delivery of PNG education

A public servant of over 10 years, Cecilia was inspired to become more involved in information systems management after experiencing first-hand the limitations and challenges of manual program delivery.

Cecilia explains, “I observed and experienced how the use of manual processes to drive the delivery of basic services lacks transparency and creates a lot of loopholes and bottlenecks that slow down the progress of service delivery.

“Not only this, but there is a lot of duplication in operations that could be minimised by centralising and integrating isolated systems for ease of access to information by both public and private agencies that support social and economic development in Papua New Guinea and the Pacific.”

Prior to taking up her Australia Award, Cecilia was a Software and Applications Branch Manager within the ICT Division of the PNG Ministry of Education where she led teams and collaborated with software developers and multi-level stakeholders to roll-out and improve systems nationally.

She will return to this role upon completion of her studies.

Cecilia says, “I am part of a vibrant and young technical ICT Team that continues to put our effort into automating business processes through the design, development and implementation of databases and software applications that are used for the administration of education services...”

This work includes the development and support of PNG’s central Education Management Information System (EMIS) which links to other software applications that capture and process education data to inform planning, policy development and decision-making.

“ICT plays a vital role in supporting the education sector as technology becomes part of teaching and learning globally,” Cecilia explains.

Overcoming barriers to women’s participation in ICT

Reflecting on barriers for women in ICT, Cecilia believes the lack of female role models, workplace harassment and discrimination targeted at women, and workplace environments that are inflexible to familial obligations all limit women’s participation in the field.

To help break down these barriers, Cecilia wants to connect with like-minded female leaders to advocate widely for the use of technology to support positive development and promote the participation of more girls and women in ICT to make the sector more diverse and inclusive.

She also hopes to see more investment in women-owned technology companies, and better representation of women on expert panels at conferences and other high-profile events which would “help to alter the stereotype that only males are subject to matters in IT".

She also believes that women in ICT would benefit from support systems of, and being surrounded by, other women in technology “who can relate to your challenges”.

“As women, we should not limit our capacity to thinking that technology is more like a boys' club ... Take the challenge to be part of a global industry that is expanding rapidly by empowering oneself to overcome obstacles that stand in the way of achieving success,” Cecilia adds.

Cecilia holds a Bachelor of Science, Mathematics and Computer Science from the University of PNG.


Cecilia is a participant of the WLI Women's Developmental Leadership Program. ‍