Women As Leaders

After more than two decades of focusing specifically on leadership skills for women, recent statistical revelations about the status of women and work and in particular leadership, is very concerning. In general, women’s advancement is sadly lacking in workplaces all over the world.

Businessman shouting her victory to the worldIn spite of progress made with regard to women’s rights across many areas, Australian women continue to be under-represented, particularly in the upper levels, and in some industries and occupations; while being overrepresented in others.  In virtually all sectors of the paid workforce, women are under-represented in leadership positions.

The EOWA 2012 Census of Women in Leadership shows that women only hold 9.2% of executives in ASX 500 and only 12.3% of directorships in the ASX 200.  Furthermore only twelve ASX 500 companies have female CEOs.  Alarmingly, the number of women on The Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Agency (EOWA) has been collecting workplace leadership since 2002. Through their work, it becomes evident that there has been minimal improvement in gender disparity in ASX companies.



Gender disparity in Australian workplaces, such as the disparity between men and women in leadership roles, perpetuates existing stereotypes about the role of women, both at work and in wider society, and exacerbates gender pay inequity. Further, research has shown that having significant numbers of women in leadership positions encourages and sustains other women. This means that unless systemic change in gender diversity in leadership is achieved, there is limited chance of the disparity improving on its own. In addition to the evident need for substantive gender equality, there are a number of advantages in promoting women in leadership:

  • Women are in fact more likely than their male counterparts to have relevant post-graduate qualifications. This is despite their tendency to undervalue their own skills and to be less forthcoming in pursuing leadership positions.
  • Economically it is a worthwhile investment. According to Goldman Sachs, narrowing the gap between male and female employment rates would have huge implications for the global economy.  In Australia it would boost our GDP by 11%.
  • Further, the current gender bias means that women are employed in roles where their productivity is not maximised. If the gender productivity gap was minimised, for example, by increasing the number of women in leadership positions, the level of economic activity in Australia could be boosted by 20%.
  • Economic incentives such as these would have flow-on effects for wider society as well. It would assist in addressing the problem of pension sustainability, thereby reducing the dependency ratio, lifting household savings rates and increasing tax received by the government. (Source: Humanrights.gov.au, 2013)

Women lead differently and research shows that women bring unique characteristics and capabilities to the leadership challenge that organisations currently face. As organisations transition from a command and control culture to that of recognition and response, a more collaborative style of leading is needed. Collaboration involves more traditionally feminine qualities including empathy, involving others, transparency and trust…to name just a few.

Success depends on organisations leveraging this diversity of leadership: to harness talent, improve the quality of decision-making, provide inspiration and role modelling, and gain from diverse points of view. Develop, support and engage your women!

VM Learning’s Women and Leaders Program is delivered by Julie Verner-Mackay and Taya Seildler.  Both are dynamic and motivational facilitators.   Julie has been a role model and inspiration for many women attending her groundbreaking programs. Founding Director of VM Learning (1989) and Director of aXcelerate Software (2008), Julie brings not only hands-on leadership experience but a wealth of knowledge gained from working with over 4000 women on the program.

The program consists four one-day workshops conducted over a fortnight..  It is specifically designed for women who may be considering leadership, or for any woman wanting to gain greater self-awareness, enhanced self-worth and a greater sense of direction in life.

This is a program not to be missed! The program has won the following awards:

  • 2013 ACLW Award – Sustaining Women’s Empowerment in Communities & Organisations
  • 2011  LearnX Award – Gold Winner for Best Leadership Training Program
  • 2006 AHRI Award – National Winner HR Leadershop Award

For more information about the program see our Program Overview.

To view our Women as Leader’s Community check out the Facebook page here.

Humanrights.gov.au. 2013. Women in leadership | Australian Human Rights Commission. [online] Available at: http://www.humanrights.gov.au/publications/women-leadership [Accessed: 21 Nov 2013].