Advance HE recently delivered a remote ‘She Leads’ programme to female academics at the University of Bahrain which saw female leaders from across the Kingdom join together to take part in this innovative and forward thinking development initiative.
Bahrain has a good balance of women in the labour force of around 39%. In government sectors this increases to more than 50% and women assuming leadership positions in the official agencies of the state has reached 45%. The percentage in middle management positions is approximately 59%. These are very important achievements. But, women in Bahrain strive for more.
‘She Leads’ focuses on the key leadership skills that are vital for women to be able to thrive in higher education. Women have been taking on more leadership roles in higher education in Bahrain (and the wider academic world) but this comes with challenges as they seek to make their mark in roles traditionally the preserve of men.
The ‘She Leads’ programme aims to develop the skills needed to overcome these challenges including communication, strategic thinking and influencing others, whilst at the same time developing a sense of community, allyship and a shared understanding of what makes excellent female leadership.
The programme at the University of Bahrain was delivered by Jenny Garrett OBE, Advance HE Associate and award-winning Career Coach, Leadership Trainer and Author. She was awarded her OBE for services to Entrepreneurship and Women in Business.
Each workshop invited a speaker to reflect on their career journeys, their strengths and weaknesses, their values, possible challenges they have faced during those journeys, and their views on the future role of female leaders. The third session in particular included a panel discussion in which three prominent leaders representing the Supreme Council of Women, the Ministry of Education, and the University of Bahrain shared their experiences and views on power, work politics, and influence.
Advance HE’s experience in delivering women in leadership programmes, such as Aurora, led to the delivery of a series of interlinked webinars for up to 40 female leaders from across Bahrain including Heads of academic departments, administrative divisions and research institutes.
Outward-facing leadership is extremely important, but particularly for women looking to expand their influence, especially during these socially-distanced times when communication can be more difficult. With this in mind the programme encouraged the participants to look at the role female leadership can play in supporting gender equality, diversity and inclusion through positive working cultures, challenging redundant norms and removing barriers.
Dr Diana A.Karim Aljahromi, Director of the Unit for Teaching Excellence and Leadership at the University of Bahrain, said: "Leaders have different stories and the programme served as a rich interactive milieu for these beautiful female leaders to share their stories and take the others through their career journey. I believe that the marriage between being driven by the love of learning and the passion for change, having values such as benevolence and the love of knowledge transfer, and having personality traits such as creativity and emotional intelligence can create exceptional female leaders.
“We should always aspire others to lead. My leadership motto has always been: ‘Together we lead. Together we shine.’”
Advance HE’s International Partnerships Manager, Kristian Rumble said: “The She Leads programme at the University of Bahrain will give participants the ability and confidence to succeed in the ever-changing global HE sector.
“The success of women in higher education is a key pillar of our commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion. The progress made in gender equality across the Middle East is very encouraging but we are well aware that there is more work to be done if people of all races, backgrounds and genders are to benefit from equality of opportunity.”
Advance HE is committed to championing women’s equality and inclusion across the globe and this programme is another mark of that, the conclusion of which coincided with International Women’s Day, an international celebration of female achievement and success which aims this year to challenge gender bias and inequality.