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Women in Leadership

New Zealand Women in Leadership (NZWiL) Programme Booklet - Diversity in leadership, promoting better sector performance

This NZWiL programme booklet was commissioned by the 2015 NZWiL Steering Group. It traces the rationale for and founding of the programme, and its development over the past eight years since its inception in 2007. It showcases the success factors of the programme and its themes through interviews with a number of the now 300 plus alumni. Key quotes from alumni are featured in the booklet, highlighting the impact the programme has made on their leadership journeys. It also contains information about the NZWiL programme structure, funding, stakeholder engagement including the selection process.

New Zealand Women in Leadership Programme - Developing Women Leaders in the Tertiary Sector


Are you a potential leader?

The Women in Leadership Programme (NZWiL) exists to support, encourage, and contribute to the development of women who are, or aspire in future to be, leaders within the tertiary sector. Our goal is to increase women’s leadership capabilities and influence by enhancing their personal, professional and national-level skills and networks. This nationwide programme is endorsed by Universities New Zealand – Te Pōkai Tara and developed by a steering group of experienced academic and senior women leaders. Initial seed funding to set up the programme was provided by the Kate Edger Educational Charitable Trust, named in recognition of Kate Milligan Edger (1857-1935), the first woman to graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in the British Empire. Each programme participant is funded by their university.

We offer two Women in Leadership programmes per annum.


Who can attend Women in Leadership courses?

Each New Zealand University is responsible for the selection of at least two nominees for each NZWiL programme. University women interested in applying should get in touch with their university key contact person, listed here.

We provide programmes for two related target groups:

  • women in, or aspiring to, senior leadership positions in academia such as professors, associate professors, Heads of School or Departments, Associate Deans, Chairs of major university committees, or principal investigators on major research projects;
  • women in, or aspiring to, senior administrative leadership positions. This includes those with responsibility for budget and people, including directors or managers of student administration, facilities management, student services, communications and marketing, student recruitment, human resources, international, legal, library, faculty registrars and school managers from large schools.

The programme is committed to encouraging diversity, so we welcome people from a wide variety of backgrounds and disciplines. We are particularly keen to assist women from under-represented groups, such as women in science and engineering, or Māori and Pasifika women. 

In 2011 the NZWiL Steering Group established two partially funded NZWiL Scholarships for Māori and Pasifika women for each NZWiL programme. The universities are invited to select and submit their nominations for these scholarship places in addition to the two nominations already sought. Information can be provided by the university key contact person.


What do our programmes involve?

We run two 5 day intensive, interactive residential programmes, designed to stimulate, engage and boost the skills, leadership capacity and capability of women who attend. Those selected gain a great deal, and in return are expected to fully participate throughout the programme, including completing some pre-work. They should also be willing to host follow-up activities at their university and/or school/department.  We want to build strong networks of women within tertiary institutions so that women leaders are supported, recognised and valued.

To see what was included in the programmes, click here for the 2016 programme for academic women and here for the 2016 programme for women in administrative positions.


What do women gain from attending the programme?

The benefits are many. Some are personal gains; others help your university and wider environment as well. Women who have attended tell us the benefits included:

  • successful promotion to a more senior leadership role after attending;
  • increasing the pool of women in senior leadership and management positions;
  • women leaders who become more confident and visible. Several participants have successfully increased their public profile after implementing skills gained on the programme;
  • better gender balance in senior roles within universities - something Universities New Zealand – Te Pōkai Tara is committed to achieving;
  • stronger networks between women, both within universities and nationally. Some participants have gone on to collaborate on research or producing papers;
  • greater leadership skills for women attending, whether in research, teaching or administration; and
  • a better environment in universities and tertiary organisations, through more women leaders who are strong, capable and confident.


What kind of women attend the programmes?

Women from a wide variety of disciplines, backgrounds, ages and geographical areas have attended the courses. Click here to read the profiles of some of the participants from previous programmes. So far, 354 women have attended the courses; 198 academic women and 156 general staff. All of New Zealand’s 8 universities have sent participants.


What results have the programmes achieved?

A group of NZWiL Alumni have organised and got funding and senior leadership support for further symposiums.  These have been held biennially and hosted in Wellington, Dunedin and most recently, for the second time, Auckland. NZWiL Alumni, in liaison with the NZWiL Steering Group, have hosted regional based alumni roadshows, the first in Auckland in May 2012 for alumni based in the upper North Island universities.  The second roadshow was held in Christchurch in November 2013 for alumni located in the South Island.  A third regional roadshow was held in Wellington in November 2015.

The aim of the symposia and roadshows is to:  

  • Support the continued development and involvement of NZWiL alumni both within their own university and across the different universities;
  • Provide mini workshops on different issues including themes identified by alumni;
  • Facilitate networking with other alumni and the senior leaders of the host universities.

Other NZWiL Alumni initiatives include the following:

  • A group of NZWiL alumni produced a pan University research paper on women's experience in academia titled Learning to Be Leaders in Higher Education: What Helps or Hinders Women's Advancement as Leaders in Universities [DOI Reference:10.1177/1741143210383896];
  • At the University of Otago members from the NZWiL Alumni have produced a paper on the 'gender pay gap' which was presented at the inaugural NZWiL Alumni Conference in Auckland;
  • We have received anecdotal feedback from individual participants who say the NZWiL programme helped them to achieve promotion to a more senior leadership role or to lead a significant project, research or university initiative; and
  • Many NZWiL participants have increased their media profile and/or been invited to speak on issues due to their increased confidence in their expertise and role as an academic which they gained from the NZWiL programme. 


Who is on the NZWiL Steering Group?

NZWiL Steering Group Membership – January 2016:

Chair – Professor Gill Dobbie, Computer Science, University of Auckland and NZWiL Alumni

Deputy Chair – Michelle Jordan-Tong, Assistant Vice-Chancellor Student and Information Services, University of Waikato


  • Annemarie de Castro, Victoria University of Wellington
  • Associate Professor Candice Harris, AUT University - NZWiL Alumni
  • Associate Professor Jean Hay-Smith, University of Otago - NZWiL Alumni         
  • Professor Sonia Mazey, University of Canterbury - NZWiL Alumni  
  • Dr Farah Palmer, Massey University

NZWiL Advisors:

  • Dr Dianne McCarthy, Managing Director, DCM Solutions Limited
  • Professor Judy McGregor, Head of School of Social Sciences and Public Policy, AUT University
  • Professor Sarah Leberman, Deputy Pro Vice-Chancellor and Professor of Leadership, Massey Business School
Key University Contacts – March 2016:



Current incumbent

The University of Auckland

Staff Development Manager

Mary Ann Crick

Auckland University of Technology

Organisational Development Manager  

Vivienne Duffy 

The University of Waikato

Head of Human Resource Management  

Carole Gunn

Massey University 

Executive Assistant to HR Director 

Coralie Weller  

Victoria University of Wellington

Director, Human Resources

Annemarie de Castro

University of Canterbury

Shared Services Manager

Karen Mather

Lincoln University

Acting Director, Human Resources

Sue Squire

University of Otago

Manager Recruitment, Development & Equity

Denise Lindsay










Helen Woodcock

Administration Assistant

Last modified: August 2nd, 2016