Standing on the shoulders of a giantess: Women in Academic Leadership

By Petrea Redmond (USQ), Elaine Huber (UofSyd), Chris Campbell (Griffith) and Sue Gregory (UNE)

There is still a gender imbalance in university senior academic positions (Redmond, Gutke, Galligan, Howard & Newman, 2017).  The imbalance causes the higher education industry to lose a pool of talented, intelligent, and motivated leaders. The research identifies issues such as pipeline pathways, work and life balance, and females questioning if their female peers are a supportive colleague or competitor? Many of these issues have been further exacerbated during COVID-19, where women have accounted for more job losses and an increased burden of unpaid care (OECD, 2020). Formal and informal enabling programs are available in universities, as indicated by Madsen (2012),

Leadership development programs for women continue to be a critical element in teaching and supporting women in higher education to prepare for, attain, and maintain positions of influence within their institutions. The bottom line is that we need to help prepare (e.g. increase aspirations, develop skills and competencies, obtain mentors and coaches) more women for higher education leadership. (p. 5)

In response to these issues, ASCILITE is introducing the Inaugural Women in Academic Leadership Initiative (2021 – 2022). This two-year initiative aims to provide mentoring opportunities for women academics at levels C and D (or equivalent), with mentors from Levels D and E (or equivalent). The initiative will bring together its members via a community approach to support each other to progress in academia. Rather than a serendipitous journey toward leadership, this program will help participants to plan their leadership journey.

Applicants must be current members of ASCILITE and maintain their membership for the duration of the two-year initiative. This can be as an individual member or listed in the quota of an institutional membership.  Further details on membership are available here.

An information webinar is scheduled for 19 February 1 pm AEDT. At the webinar, we will introduce the initiative and talk to two successful leaders from the field on technology-enhanced learning in higher education. The facilitators will discuss the process for applications, the initiative’s expectations, and the Women in Academic Leadership Initiative aims and will answer any questions you may have. If you would like to join us, use this login link.

The Women in Academic Leadership Initiative complements but does not overlap with the  ASCILITE Community Mentoring Program, which provides mentoring arrangements that focus on academic practice, early-career research, teaching innovations, and learning design.  This new initiative has a specific goal of supporting women academic leaders as well as aspiring women leaders to move through higher academic promotion levels.

This initiative will provide mentoring, information webinars, stories from successful technology-enhanced learning leaders, opportunities to develop leadership skills and opportunities to create networks and contacts outside of the individual’s workplace.

Expressions of Interest are invited from ASCILITE members who wish to become a mentee or a mentor. Participation in the initiative is a competitive process, and successful mentees will be matched with other mentees and mentors who have expertise in relevant areas.

Further information about the initiative is available here.


Madsen, S. R. (2012). Women and Leadership in Higher Education Learning and Advancement in Leadership Programs. Advances in Developing Human Resources, 14(1), 3–10. doi:10.1177/1523422311429668

OECD.  (2020). Women at the core of the fight against COVID-19 crisis.  Retrieved from

Redmond, P., Gutke, H., Galligan, L., Howard, A., & Newman, T. (2017) Becoming a female leader in higher education: Investigations from a regional university. Gender and Education, 29(3), 332-351. Doi:10.1080/09540253.2016.1156063


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Colin Simpson
Colin Simpson
3 years ago

Wonderful initiative, great to see