A forum allowing women who work at the University of New England (UNE) to voice their opinions about furthering women at UNE has been held to coincide with International Women’s Day, last week, March 8.
The seminar opened with the Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Prof Graham Webb, speaking about how important it was to try to create more effective ways of getting more women into higher management level jobs within the institution.
The forum was chaired by Prof Alison Sheridan who discussed the issues and barriers for development and progression that women at UNE face. Prof Sheridan also talked about possible solutions for these issues.
Issues that were discussed included chauvinistic stereotypes and attitudes, nepotism and stressful workloads. The difficulties of balancing work-life and home-life were also addressed.
The forum also aimed to find ways to create more avenues for women to reach higher level management positions.
Event organiser Bronwyn Kirk explained in detail some of the programs that are being put in place to further women’s opportunities at UNE, which included a Pathways to Promotion program, a Women and Leadership program (a series of workshops to develop and enhance leadership capacity amongst female employees), and a Female Shadowing Program which is being piloted in 2010.
Prof Victor Minichiello was one of only two men at the forum and stated that he felt that it was really important as a male who sat through and participated in the forum that “males need to be sensitized. They need to understand and be advocates and promote (awareness).”
The forum followed an all-day session held in late 2009, where women in more senior roles discussed furthering the careers of women at UNE.
Prof Sheridan commented that at this year’s forum there was a “broader voice”, as there were women from all departments, including both academic staff and general staff in all levels of positions. She also said that the forum brought out a “greater awareness of what women want”.
Dr Eliza Kent, Prof Alison Sheridan and Bronwyn Kirk all agreed that there were good suggestions made by the women who attended today’s forum and that there was now a clearer direction to take action on these issues.
Professor Sheridan also touched on the “momentum of women” and the feeling of empowerment that women have when they act as a whole. With continuing workshops throughout the year, there will be many further opportunities for women at UNE to make themselves heard.
THE PHOTOGRAPH of Bronwyn Kirk (left) and Professor Alison Sheridan displayed here expands to include Dr Eliza Kent and Professor Graham Webb.