1 March 2007
The first nationwide programme to boost numbers of women in senior academic roles is set to begin this June.
The Women in Leadership programme was developed in response to troubling figures in the New Zealand Census of Women’s Participation (2006), published by the Human Rights Commission. The census showed that women hold less than 17 percent of senior academic positions across New Zealand’s eight universities.
The new Women in Leadership programme will take two women from each university on a five-day residential course that will develop their leadership qualities and their understanding of governance.
EEO Commissioner Dr Judy McGregor says that some academic women find it difficult to push themselves forward for promotion. Many women have leadership skills but lack confidence to push their own case, she says. Women researchers often work in isolation and so face handicaps in a field where career advancement can be heavily influenced by collegial networks.
University of Auckland Pro Vice-Chancellor Professor Dianne McCarthy says that the programme will substantially increase academic women’s professional networks. “It will offer a unique opportunity for participants to build networks with senior women from other universities and bring senior academic women in contact with successful businesswomen in the private sector.”
Massey University’s New Zealand Centre for Women and Leadership spokeswoman Dr Susan Fountaine says the programme has been modelled on a similar programme in Australia, and the award-winning Women in Leadership development programme at the University of Auckland. It also includes ideas garnered from various conferences and courses that the steering committee members have attended in the past, she says.
"We're excited about this new initiative, which helps address the under-representation of women in senior positions within New Zealand universities. The programme will offer an impressive line-up of speakers and facilitators. It's also an opportunity for participants to meet and network with women from other universities, and to develop the confidence to identify themselves as leaders. It should be a challenging but fun week!”
Among students aged under thirty, women outnumber men by 26 percent. Female enrolment figures are increasing, yet this is not reflected by a proportionate rise in female senior academics. Too few women are serving as role models as teachers, researchers and managers at the higher levels of academia. Tertiary institutions risk losing ground competitively by passing over potential leaders of the future.
University women interested in applying can email the programme convener Sarah Schulz
Women in Leadership: University leaders of tomorrow