What will it take?
Monday, November 16, 2020

The Transforming Women’s Leadership Pathways initiative (TWLP) was launched on 1 October 2020 by the former Prime Minister of Australia, the Rt Hon, Julia Gillard.  This online, month-long event of ten working groups aimed to develop action plans to transform women's leadership pathways in the Arts, Corporate, Engineering, Entrepreneurship & Innovation, Higher Education, Media & Communications, Medicine, Policy & Politics, Science and Technology. TWLP is a flagship initiative of the PLuS Alliance.

The event was hosted by Professor Eileen Baldry, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Equity Diversity and Inclusion), UNSW Sydney. At the launch, Professor Baldry said:

“Our goal is to establish gender parity, equity and diversity as the norm by 2030.  This requires, of course, a genuine step change in women’s representation in industry, government and academia.  This event is the PLuS Alliance’s contribution to identify what it will take to accelerate the change and fast track women’s leadership pathways, but we must not just accelerate, we must expand the pathways to see more diversity in senior leadership. We must test the recommendations that we make against the principles of intersectionality, sustainability and changing work and work patterns to ensure that the solutions are inclusive and adapting for future ways of working and it is crucial that we are all in the room.”

The TWLP initiative is intended to fast track progress. Workshops were held over four weeks, across the 10 disciplines with more than 100 participants taking part across three different time zones.  Twenty student ambassadors participated in the event. Participants were asked to be bold, ambitious and radical in their approach.

The workshop leaders were;

The Arts - Elena Taylor and Sonia Maddock

Corporate - Dr Toni Farmer-Thompson, ASU and Christine Gannon, Brightworks Consulting

Engineering - Professor Judy Raper TEDI-London and Professor Eliathamby Ambikairajah, UNSW

Entrepreneurship and Innovation - Dr Raji Ambikairajah, UNSW 

Higher Education - Erin Carr-Jordan and Associate Professor Miki Kittleson, ASU 

Media and Communication - Professor Susan Lisovicz  and Professor Jacquee Petchel, ASU

Medicine and Life Sciences - Professor Claire Sharpe, KCL 

Policy and Politics - Professor Diana Bowman and Kristine Irwin, ASU 

Science - Professor Veena Sahajwallah, UNSW 

Technology and IT -  Professor Lemuria Carter, UNSW

Action plans are being completed and are expected to be published early next year. Some of the major themes coming out of the workshops included:

  • Diverse representation in executive leadership
  • Data transparency and metrics
  • Acknowledging who is missing from the table
  • Recognition and visibility of achievements
  • Flexible working, parental leave and childcare
  • Mentoring, sponsorship and co-leading/job sharing
  • Change the promotion pathway and recognise and reward diverse experiences

Professor Baldry, in her concluding remarks at the final plenary session on 30 October 2020, said: “What will make the difference this time round?  Why will the action plans get more traction this time round? It is because of the talent that has been brought together from three countries and the plans that we have to maximise our impact with the backing of the PLuS Alliance.”

The TWLP Steering Committee plans to work with major media outlets to promote the action plans, and a website will be launched early next year to track progress against the goals set.

For enquiries contact Lily Halliday,  Project Manager & Senior Project Officer  lily.halliday@unsw.edu.au