By Sonia Pechner, Executive Director, Academic Search International
ASI was proud to once again sponsor this year’s WATTLE (Women Attaining Leadership) conference held in early June at Australia’s Deakin University.
The second ever WATTLE conference (ASI also sponsored the inaugural conference in November 2018), an intensive, five-day programme, is designed for academic and professional women in the higher education sector.
Based on the highly successful New Zealand Universities Women in Leadership (NZWiL) programme, WATTLE was created to address the under-representation of women in senior levels of leadership in the university sector. It brings together women identified as potential leaders and offers a leadership and networking program that’s specifically tailored to the sector.
“We’re really happy to be associated with the WATTLE Conference,” enthuses ASI Executive Director, Sonia Pechner. “The New Zealand programme has been going for well over ten years now and it’s made a difference. Thanks to the efforts of some very energetic women in Australia they’ve now managed to get it up and running there too.”
Sonia presented at both conferences and had a chance to meet the attendees. “They’re an inspirational group of women. Seeing them towards the end of the week and the strengths they were able to develop just confirmed how valuable this week-long residency is.”
Sonia says they may not necessarily be women who already hold a management title. “These women have been handpicked as having the potential to further develop in higher education They could be very actively engaged but haven’t yet had the opportunity to prove themselves. The conference prepares them to step up to next level.”
It seems the current focus on women in leadership is already making an impact. From 2020, fifty per cent of New Zealand’s Vice Chancellors will be women. “While this isn’t directly linked to the programme,” Sonia explains, “it has created a great deal of awareness around gender diversity and advancing women’s careers.”