The careers of 14 present-day women of influence are juxtaposed with the careers of historical figures in an exhibition now showing at the University of Wollongong library.
Blaze: Working Women, Public Leaders, is a touring exhibition from the NSW State Archives that explores the challenges negotiated by women in the public sector since 1860 and the heights they have reached.
Curator Dr Penny Stannard said while structural discrimination no longer exists in the public sector, only one third of senior executive roles are occupied by women.
"Despite policies and laws, why is that still the case?" Dr Stannard said.
"The exhibition engages with issue of underrepresentation of women in leadership.
"It highlights the work women in the past have done to advance opportunities for women now.
"We have asked the women featured in the exhibition - "when have you really had to back yourself"
"The women of the past were facing discrimination and antagonism, the women of today have had to back themselves."
UOW's Library Services director Margie Jantti said the exhibition will be right at home in a university which strives to support women in leadership.
"We are very much looking forward to celebrating trailblazers past and present who have strived to carve out roles for women of the future," Ms Jantti said.
The exhibition runs daily 10am to 4pm in the Panizzi Gallery until July 29.
It will be officially launched on Wednesday, June 12 from 1.45pm.