APRU held the first seminar of the Asia-Pacific Women in Leadership (APWiL) Mentoring Program’s 2nd Cohort on December 8, exploring women’s representation and advancement in higher education leadership in the Pacific Rim.
Speakers from Hong Kong, Malaysia, and Australia shared their personal experiences and views, shedding light on both the commonalities and differences in barriers to women’s advancement in leadership.
The APWiL Mentoring Program is a year-long commitment matching a mentor and mentee from one of the participating APRU member universities. It provides international and intercultural opportunities for the empowerment, professional growth, and development of aspiring women leaders within APRU. The program is co-chaired by Dr Sabrina Lin, Senior Advisor to the HKUST President and Professor Joanna Regulska, Vice Provost and Dean – Global Affairs, and Professor of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies, UC Davis.
The APWiL Mentoring Program 2nd Cohort will run until September 30, 2022, involving 94 participants from 26 institutions. APRU held the APWiL Mentoring Program Seminar in partnership with the American Council on Education (ACE) and the Center for International Higher Education (CIHE) at Boston College.
The seminar was moderated by Professor Joanna Regulska, Vice Provost and Dean – Global Affairs, and Professor of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies, UC Davis and APWiL Co-Chair.
“Women’s higher education leadership has been an integral component of ACE’s work for decades, including our robust AEC women’s network and our initiatives aiming for gender parity in higher education leadership,” said Carly O’Connell, American Council on Education (ACE) Representative, in her opening address.
“APRU’s commitment to mentorship and women lifting up other women is very much in the same spirit as ACE’s efforts,” she added.
Norzaini Azman, Professor of Higher Education at the Faculty of Education, Universiti Kebangsaan, Malaysia, shared her personal experience of earning her PhD in Manchester and afterwards getting into an academic management leadership position in Malaysia. Azman had difficulty juggling that work with the needs of her own child and felt that she did not have enough time to dive deeply into her own area of higher education.
“I took two sabbaticals, which was a very important decision that allowed me to develop my academic leadership, and I think that Malaysian women are really moving away from the assumption that they are best suited for domestic work,” Azman said.
“We work hard, have academic overseas experience and networks, so there are the opportunities and skillsets needed to become academic leaders,” she added.
Amalia Di lorio AM, Professor of Finance and Associate Provost (International and Academic Partnerships), La Trobe University, Australia, recalled that she was trained in medical radiology but after graduation did not want to work in that field. Coming from an Italian family which had restaurants in Australia, she chose to study accounting, which eventually led her to become a professor of finance.
“My first years of academic life were really intense, because I had two little children, and I could not have done it without support from my family,” Di lorio said.
“In Australia, we have come a long way in gender equality discussions, but it does not mean we are seeing many women in academic leadership positions,” she added.
Linda Chelan Li, Professor of Political Science at the Department of Public Policy and director of Research Centre for Sustainable Hong Kong (CSHK), City University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, pointed out that collaboration with other academics is a very important form of leadership.
“Women need to stand taller in this time when we are still living in a transitional culture,” Li said.
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