Advance HE is to offer its flagship Aurora women’s leadership programme in Australia, its chief executive Alison Johns announced today (2 November) after a wide-ranging interview with Aurora alumnae Lylian Fotabong, a lecturer in culture and language at Mary Immaculate College, Limerick, at a special conference to mark 10 years of the initiative in the UK and Ireland.
Aurora has already helped more than 10,000 women in more than 200 higher education institutions across the UK and Ireland develop their leadership skills and the global community has been extended further in the Middle East and South Africa with an adapted version of Aurora.
Now, after a successful women’s leadership event in Perth earlier this year, Advance HE is planning to respond to calls from the sector there by piloting a contextualised version of Aurora in Australia next year, according to Alison Johns
She also said Advance HE would be launching a new community of Aurora alumnae in the UK and Ireland and a programme of activity to enable continued leadership discussion and networking opportunities for women who have completed Aurora. Developing a global community of women connected via Aurora will also add richness and further impact to support success and progression.
As part of the lead-in to launching Aurora in Australia more than 60 higher education professionals from across Australia participated in the event exploring issues facing women leaders, which was facilitated by Advance HE and included an interview with the Chair of Sage (Science in Australia Gender Equity), Libby Lyons, and hosted by Edith Cowan University, Perth in July.
“Women in higher education across the globe face gender-specific challenges as they develop as leaders,” said Alison Johns.
“Specialised leadership development initiatives have an important role to play in giving women tools to overcome these as well as being effective resources that institutions can incorporate into their overarching strategies to promote Equality, Diversity and Inclusion and to tackle gender inequality.
“Talking to women leaders in a broad range of global contexts, it’s clear that while there are differences in culture and context, there are real areas of commonality in terms of the hurdles women face in their leadership journeys.
“While the hurdles can vary from country to country and institution to institution, there are significant experiences that are shared. This is why we believe Aurora has the potential to make a difference to women in Australia and other parts of the world to the same degree it already has done to women in Ireland and the UK.”
“It is true that Aurora impacts differently for different women and that is something we need to explore in greater depth,” she said.
“For example, we know that satisfaction levels for Aurora are high and the impact on careers is clear in the research and feedback. However, we also know that women from Black, Asian and Minority groups express lower levels of satisfaction and we need to understand fully the reasons for that and what more we can do in support.”
The Aurora 10th anniversary conference also included:
- A panel discussion at which Dr Mary Richards of Brunel University, one of the very first Aurorans, shared her thoughts on the future issues likely to be impacting women's leadership in the sector.
- A Keynote speech by award-winning career coach and leadership trainer, and foundational facilitator for Aurora - Jenny Garrett OBE.
- Interactive break-out sessions exploring different aspects of leadership relevant to women.