Inaugural WATTLE Program launches

The WATTLE Women Attaining Leadership program, designed to empower women to share, learn, lead and achieve, was launched last week. The program is based on NZWiL (New Zealand Women in Leadership), a highly successful program for women employed at universities who are aspiring to leadership roles.

Across five days participants from the seven participating universities Swinburne, La Trobe, Griffith, RMIT, Deakin, ANU and Curtin heard from senior University executives such as Vice-Chancellors Professor Jane den Hollander, Professor John Dewar and Professor Helen Bartlett but also from industry and government executives including Sam Hannah-Rankin, Director, Public Sector Innovation, Department of Premier and Cabinet; Lord Mayor Sally Capp; and Dr Wafa El-Adhami, Executive Director of Science in Australia Gender Equity (SAGE).

WATTLE is funded and owned by the participating universities, with additional participants sought for 2019 to generate wider impact. Networking between participants and presenters is key to the success of the program, and so is the formation of the alumnae group that will meet regularly.

The four founders, Professor Rosemary Stockdale (Griffith, and NZWiL alumna), Professor Virginia Kilborn, Professor Helana Scheepers (both Swinburne) and Professor Birgit Loch (La Trobe) collaborated closely with NZWiL to bring the program to Australia.

Professor Birgit Loch (La Trobe) said: “This first offer has been incredibly successful with the women returning to their universities inspired and encouraged to lead and aspire to formal leadership roles. One of the participants called this program ‘transformational’. Just like NZWiL we believe WATTLE will have a significant impact on the number of women in executive roles in the Australian university sector.”

Plans are already underway for next year’s WATTLE program, including a version for professional staff.