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Women In Leadership Gather From Pacific Rim Universities

The cultural complexities for women advancing into leadership roles in Pacific Rim universities will be explored at a weekend meeting at the University of Auckland.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Dawn Freshwater says the Asia-Pacific Women in Leadership group, of which she is the current Presidential Champion, was established to confront and challenge barriers such as gender stereotypes and diverse social norms that prevent women from becoming leaders.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Dawn Freshwater

“We have made progress, thanks in part to a mentoring programme launched in 2020, but there is much more work to be done to close gender equality gaps and increase the impact of women’s empowerment programmes.”

Two University of Auckland leaders have mentored women within the group network, bringing their own university and leadership experience to the year-long mentoring relationships.

For Pro Vice-Chancellor Māori, Associate Professor Te Kawehau Hoskins, the mentoring experience was two-way and highlighted her own approach to leadership, which is influenced by her Māori culture and its emphasis on the collective rather than the individual.

Pro Vice-Chancellor Māori, Associate Professor Te Kawehau Hoskins
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“Sometimes – and I was one of these people – we’re not ambitious personally, and so we’re not always aware of how the game is played. It took me a long time to apply for a promotion … because no one said to me: ‘You’re at a point where you should apply for a promotion’.”

Pro Vice-Chancellor Pacific, Professor Jemaima Tiatia-Siau’s experience is shared by her family and the efforts and sacrifices they made to support her academic and leadership career.

Professor Jemaima Tiatia-Siau

“It has taken a village to bring me to this point – from my spouse, family, elders, friends, peers, line managers, direct reports, spiritual mentors, students and Pacific pioneers; all have in some form, shaped my leadership journey. The best part, however, is not guarding this for self-gain, but rather, to give back just as much.”

Professor Freshwater says complex social, cultural, and economic barriers impact women’s abilities to pursue leadership roles.

“By sharing experiences, supporting each other, and working across universities, we are making a difference. The bonds formed around the Pacific Rim have enabled this. This is why this meeting in Auckland is so important.”

The Asia Pacific Women in Leadership (APWiL) group is associated with the Association of Pacific Rim Universities (APRU). Vice-Chancellor Professor Freshwater is an APWiL champion and the Vice-Chair of APRU. As well as hosting the APWiL meeting, she is hosting an annual meeting of APRU Presidents and senior leaders. They will represent most of APRU’s 61 university members.

Further details about the APWiL event can be found on the APWiL Summit website.

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