ATN WEXDEV International Conference 2006
Change in Climate? Prospects for gender equity in universities
A major international conference Change in Climate? Prospects for gender equity in universities sponsored by the Australian Technology Network (ATN) Women's Executive Development Program (WEXDEV) and the University of South Australia took place in Adelaide, South Australia, over 3 days, 11-13 April 2006. The conference was attended by 140 delegates, including academics, managers and equity practitioners from 18 countries.
Federal Minister the Honourable Julie Bishop
The conference was addressed by two Ministers, the Honourable Julie Bishop, Federal Minister for Education, Science and Training and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on Women's Issues and the Honourable Jane Lomax-Smith, South Australian Minister for Education, for Tourism and for the City of Adelaide. Other plenary speakers included 6 female Vice-Chancellors from around the world, including two ATN female vice-chancellors, Denise Bradley and Margaret Gardner. Professor Jeanette Hacket, who had just been announced as Vice-Chancellor of Curtin University, attended sessions of the Conference. The Association of Commonwealth Universities Conference of Executive Heads taking place in the same city meant that leaders of Commonwealth Universities were able to make contributions. The Carnegie Corporation of New York funded 7 delegates from African universities linked with their program for Strengthening African Universities to present papers.
Ms Ave Maria Semakafu, Muhimbili, University College of Health Sciences, Tanzania and Dr Shedrack Best, University of Jos, Nigeria
As a token of reconciliation and in apology for past wrongs, the conference was opened by Aunty Josie Agius who welcomed delegates to Kaurna land and introduced a group of indigenous dancers. Professor Denise Bradley, AO, Vice-Chancellor of the University of South Australia, then gave a highly personal and political account of the situation of women in universities, acknowledging that she was both an agent and beneficiary of change. She paid tribute to the feminist movement in which she had been involved and emphasised that change in Australia had not been evolutionary but had been fought for. She acknowledged the importance of legal changes such as affirmative action, which had provided a framework in which she, a single mother with four sons, had become a Vice-Chancellor.
Professor Denise Bradley
Aunty Josie Agius
Professor Louise Morley from the University of Sussex, UK then presented a paper based on a large research project which has looked at the impact of gender mainstreaming in a number of countries. She argued that although it provides useful tools and measures, it has been ineffectual in shifting deep-seated patriarchal values and organisational structures. (Power Point Slide 77 KB)
Professor Louise Morley with Professor Jancy James, Vice Chancellor Mahatma Gandhi University, Kottayam, Kerala, India.
After morning tea, Professor Rupa Shah, Vice-Chancellor of SNDT University, Mumbai, India, described the situation of women in Indian universities. Despite a long history of tertiary education, women in Indian universities are far from equal. Of 380 universities, only 11 have women Vice-Chancellors, although women are 50% of lecturers. She outlined the differences between the various Indian states and emphasised the importance of traditional family values in the oppression of women. (MS Word Document 47.5 KB)
Professor Rupa Shah, Vice-Chancellor of SNDT University, Mumbai, India
Professor Margaret Gardner, Vice-Chancellor of RMIT University, spoke of the need to confront Australia's ageing academic profile, and indicated that this could provide opportunities for women. She saw the major challenges as being the highly competitive environment in which universities now function and the pressure of such initiatives as the Research Quality Framework. Women were at a disadvantage as child-bearing often coincided with the period of peak research productivity. Universities must respect non-traditional career paths.
Professor Margaret Gardner
The Minister Julie Bishop picked up on her suggestion that women were often denigrated for being 'ambitious' and proudly claimed this description. She coined the term 'wisdom workers' to honour the mature age workforce. She acknowledged the value of gender equity and indicated that the significance of role models and mentoring for women to reach the heights in academia could not be underestimated.
In the afternoon a series of concurrent workshops took place. The first stream, Strategic Issues, included:
- Professor H. Winchester, PVC Organisational Change at UniSA, co-convenor of the Colloquium of
Senior Women in Higher Education and chair of theconference committee, discussing
the new Action Plan for Women Employed in Australian Universities passed by
the Australian Vice-Chancellors' Committee
(Power Point Slide 7.05 MB).
Professor Hilary Winchester
- A/Professor G. Bantebya, Women's Studies Makerere University, Uganda discussing the use of gender mainstreaming (Power Point Slide 207 KB).
- Dr S. Finlay, Director, Faculty Renewal and E. Hillan, University of Toronto, Canada on improving gender equity in faculty recruitment (Power Point Slide 799KB)
- Senior Professor C. Gunawardena, Dean, Education, Open University of Sri Lanka on micropolitical issues limiting women (Power Point Slide 293 KB)
- Ms J. Richardson and Dr K. Watty, Business, RMIT University, Australia on using consultation and involvement in major change (Power Point Slide 201 KB)
- 3 papers on the experiences and skills needed by women in senior leadership in universities by Professor B. Bagilhole, Social Sciences, Loughborough University, UK and Dr K White, Victoria University, Australia (Power Point Slide 780 KB); Dr M. Peters, Communication and Information Studies, University of South Australia, Australia (Power Point Slide 63.5 KB); and Ms K. Tilbrook, Law, Macquarie University, Australia (Power Point Slide 101 KB)
The second stream, Institutional Initiatives, involved:
- Dr S.G. Best, Director, Conflict Management & Peace Studies, University of Jos, Nigeria on initiatives undertaken with funding from the Carnegie Corporation
- 2 presentations from women involved in the University of NSW gender equity initiatives, one on the program (Power Point Slide 85.5 KB), one on the values of networking (Power Point Slide 266 KB) and (Power Point Slide 374 KB)
- Dr J. Oriel on Deakin University Women in Leadership program (paper available from ATN WEXDEV)
- 2 presentations on mentoring programs, from Dr C. McCormack, Learning and Teaching, University of Canberra, Australia (Power Point Slide 45.5 KB) and Dr H. Geber, Staff Development, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa (Power Point Slide 784 KB).
The third stream, Challenges and Opportunities featured
- Dr A. Brooks, Head Psychology and Sociology, SIM University, Singapore on the conflicting tendencies towards homogeneity and localism in Asia (Power Point Slide 90.5 KB)
- Mrs S. Rizwan, Higher Education Commission, Pakistan on men's and women's attitude to management (Power Point Slide 2.73 MB)
- Ms Abeyasekera-Van Dort, Centre for Women's Research, Colombo, Sri Lanka about a women's curriculum (Power Point Slide 123 KB)
- A session on women and research with papers by Ms D. Cohen, Equity, University Of Technology, Sydney/ University of NSW, Australia (Power Point Slide 108 KB) and by Ms B Dalton and Dr M. Dever from Monash University (Power Point Slide 244 KB)
- Dr R. Simpson, Reader in Management, Brunel University, United Kingdom on masculinity and the MBA (Power Point Slide 38.0 KB)
- Ms L. Shackleton, HERS-SA, University of Cape Town, South Africa on changes to discourse on gender in annual reports (Power Point Slide 264 KB)
- Ms H. Szewello-Allen, Dean, Social Work, Thompson Rivers University, Canada in a strategic discussion on the role of the Dean.
On Wednesday 12th April the conference opened with a plenary presentation by Professor Angelina Yuen Tsang Woon-ki, Polytechnic University of Hong Kong and Professor Lixi Zhang, President of China Women's University on the position of women leaders in universities in Hong Kong and the Chinese mainland (Power Point Slide 223 KB). This was followed by the Chairs and Director of ATN WEXDEV describing the first ten years of the program and reflecting on motives, methods and meaning.
from left Dr Susan Tiffin, Ms Robyn Kemmis, Dr Colleen Chesterman, Professor Eleanor Ramsay and Ms Shard Lorenzo
Concurrent workshops followed. Strategic Issues included:
- Professor O. Aina, Director, Centre for Gender and Social Policy Studies, Obafemi Awolowo University, Nigeria whose paper on gender equity in Nigeria was read for her (paper available)
- Professor S. Bell, PVC Equity and Community Partnerships, Griffith University, Australia on women and research (Power Point Slide 281 KB)
- Professor A. Mant, Socio-Technical Strategy Group, UK and Swinburne University, Australia on a feminist strategy for women's career advancement (paper available)
- A session on women in senior positions with papers by Dr C. McWatters, Dean, University of Alberta, Canada (Power Point Slide 1 MB) Ms H. Valentine, PVC, Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, UK (Power Point Slide 189 KB) and from Dr M. Wallace, Social Sciences, Southern Cross University, Australia on women in middle management (Power Point Slide 275 KB)
- Dr P. Klink, Keylinks and the University of Calgary, Canada on women in leadership (Power Point Slide 809 KB)
- Ms K. Lagerstrom, Karolinska Institutet and I. Palmer, Chancellor, Mäalrdalen University, Sweden on IDAS, a Swedish national programme for future female managers and leaders in higher education (Power Point Slide 532 KB).
The second stream, Institutional Initiatives, involved presentations on their various programs by
- Ms S. Riordan, HERS-SA, University of Cape Town, South Africa (Power Point Slide 76.5 KB)
- Mrs K. Bulumulle, Social Studies, Open University of Sri Lanka (Power Point Slide 244 KB)
- Ms A. Brown, EO, Victoria University, Australia (Power Point Slide 189 KB)
- Ms M Kelly, Equity, and Ms G. Drew, Human Resources, Queensland University Of Technology, Australia (Power Point Slide 519 KB)
- Ms J. Audi, Ahmadu Bello University, Nigeria (paper available)
- Ms J. Secker, Deputy Head, Personnel Services, University of Oxford, UK (Power Point Slide 784 KB)
- Ms J. de Vries, Women In Leadership Program, University of Western Australia, Australia (Power Point Slide 364 KB), (Power Point Slide 426 KB) and (Power Point Slide 251 KB)
- Dr F. Mukangara, Gender Program, University of Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania (Power Point Slide 792 KB)
- Ms V. Tuaru, The University of Goroka, Papua New Guinea (Power Point Slide 977 KB).
Rektor Ingebord Palmer on right with Colleen Chesterman and Shard Lorenzo
The third stream, Challenges and Opportunities, featured
- Dr M. Dever, Director, Centre for Women's Studies and Gender Research, Monash University, Australia on research performance (Power Point Slide 3.04 MB)
- Dr J. Keogh, Education, University of Queensland, Australia on casual academics (Power Point Slide 198 K)
- A session on issues beyond gender involving Professor A. Hildyard, Vice President, Human Resources and Equity, and Professor C. Guberman, Status of Women Officer, University of Toronto, Canada on their university's policies (Power Point Slide 149 KB); Dr D. Kerfoot, Keele University, United Kingdom on issues of sexuality (Word Document 30 KB) and Ms C. Gopalkrishnan, University of Western Australia on women of colour (Power Point Slide 650 KB)
- Ms A. Roberts, University of South Australia, Australia on women, menopause and retirement (Power Point Slide 256 KB)
- Professor S. Worden, Design, and Ms S. Fryer-Smith, Graduate School of Business, Curtin University, Australia on the ageing workforce (Power Point Slide 417 KB)
- A reading from a paper sent by Ms A. Oti and Ms A. Oyelude, University of Ibadan, Nigeria on women's career paths as affected by work/home conflict, networking and mentoring (paper available).
Professor Liz Harman, Vice-Chancellor, Victoria University
The afternoon plenary presentations were by Professor Liz Harman, Vice-Chancellor, Victoria University, Australia on the positives of developing diversity in universities (Power Point Slide 2.06 MB). She was followed by Dr Donna Phillips, Director, Office of Women in Higher Education, American Council on Education who discussed the work of her organisation (which represents only 24% of US Presidents of higher education institutions) to train women for senior leadership positions through a network of state councils. In the US university there is a trend that leaders are not recruited from the professoriate, but from outside with a background in money-raising. OWHE does specific skills development for women in budgeting and strategic planning and also provides opportunities to meet head-hunters and develop interview skills. She argues that women must invest in their own careers, say no to many demands and recognise that areas such as student services are undervalued.
Dr Donna Phillips, Director, Office of Women in Higher Education, American Council on Education
The conference dinner was a great networking success and was addressed by the Honourable Jane Lomax-Smith, South Australian Minister for Education, for Tourism and for the City of Adelaide, who gave a witty but thoughtful account of her career and how she managed in the political world.
Thursday, 13th April began with concurrent sessions, with a continuing high attendance. Strategic Issues included:
- Professor Alison Mackinnon, History and Gender Studies, University of South Australia, Australia talking about her career and others of her generation being unexpected and unplanned.
- Ms P. McColl, Business, University of Teesside, United Kingdom looking at expectations of good careers (Power Point Slide 33.0 KB)
- Dr J. Eveline, Labour Studies, University of Western Australia, Australia on changing work demands in new technologies (Power Point Slide 326 KB)
- A session on gender in science careers with papers by Professor T. Rees, School of Social Sciences, Cardiff University, Wales on the gendered construction of scientific excellence; by Dr M.A. Stevens-Kalceff, School of Physics, University of New South Wales (Power Point Slide 2.59 MB) and by Associate Professor Dr A. Specht, Environmental Science, Southern Cross University, Australia on women in regional campuses (Power Point Slide 662 KB).
The second stream, Institutional Initiatives, involved presentations on programs.
- Ms R. Nestor, Head Professional Development, University of Oxford, United Kingdom (Power Point Slide 831 KB), Ms L. Browning, Human Resources, University of South Australia, Australia (Power Point Slide 295 KB) and Ms B. Groombridge, Manager, Leadership Program, and Professor. S. Worden, Design, Curtin University, Australia discussed women and leadership initiatives (Power Point Slide 2.13 MB)
- Ms W. Tete-Mensah, Assistant Registrar,University of Education, Winnebah, Ghana, was unable to attend the conference because of last-minute visa complications, but her overheads on their program were available (Power Point Slide 319 KB)
- Mr M. Wayong, Flinders University, Australia discussed gender at the state universities of Makassar, Indonesia (Power Point Slide 95.5 KB)
- Ms K. Agren, EO Officer, Umea University, Sweden described her program (Power Point Slide 2.06 MB).
Alison Mackinnon on left, Joan Eveline on right
The third stream, Challenges and Opportunities, featured
- Dr C. Kabonese, Makerere University, Uganda on Information Communication Technologies (Power Point Slide 46.0 KB)
- Dr F. Sagebiel, Social Sciences, University of Wuppertal, Germany on barriers to women's careers in engineering (Power Point Slide 380 KB)
- A session on promotions with Associate Professor S. Austen, Co-Director, Women in Social and Economic Research Group, Curtin University, Australia on promotions and publications (Power Point Slide 222 KB); Dr S. Doyle, Education Studies, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand on research in NZ (Power Point Slide 98.0 KB) and Ms S. Lorenzo, Director, Human Resources, University of South Australia on a group project on policy and practice in Australian universities (Power Point Slide 1.04 MB).
The final plenary was addressed by Professor Najma Najam, Vice-Chancellor, Fatima Jinnah Women University, Rawalpindi, Pakistan on the long struggle still ahead for gender equity in higher education (Power Point Slide 168 KB) and Colleen Chesterman then closed the conference with a summary and extended thanks.
The conference also featured 2 posters, one by Ms D. Simonis, University of Capetown, South Africa on the HERS-SA leadership program for women and one by Ms B. Holland, Engineering, University Of Technology, Sydney, Australia on the 25 year history of the UTS Women in Engineering program.
39 of the 63 papers presented during the conference have been submitted for publication. These are currently being assessed by an academic review committee and those selected will be published on a disc, which will be sent to all delegates and which will be available for others who send requests to the ATN WEXDEV National Office.
The conference provided an excellent opportunity to consider the current issues facing women working in higher education throughout the world. It enabled participants to report on findings from recent research and to exchange information and ideas on good practice in gender equity, including projects in specific disciplines. Delegates identified priority issues and goals for gender equity in higher education in developing and developed countries. They also developed a wider knowledge and deeper understanding of best practice in institutional, national and international policy and frameworks that support women in higher education and gender equity in universities. Most importantly the conference established networks of women in higher education that cross national boundaries that will enable future sharing of resources and information about programs available for supporting and strengthening the participation of women in higher education and encouraging them to seek senior positions and positions of influence within society and their institutions.
Sarah Riordan and Desiree Simonis, both of University of Capetown with poster on HERS