New Zealand’s experiment: closing the gender gap in higher education leadership through cumulative cultural change
The subject of this paper is a long-standing New Zealand (NZ) national university women’s leadership programme, NZWiL . Formally established in 2006, with the first program delivered in 2007, NZWiL was designed to address an issue all too familiar across the world – university women’s under-representation at senior leadership levels and over-representation at entry level classifications amongst academic and professional staff alike. In New Zealand this pattern has persisted well into the twenty-first century, despite a NZ woman, Kate Edger, in 1877 becoming the first woman to graduate with a Bachelor of Arts degree in the British Empire (albeit having enrolled without revealing her sex) and despite NZ being the first nation state in the world to enfranchise all women in 1893. Yet this pattern persists notwithstanding the steady increase in women’s numbers and achievements as both staff and students in NZ higher education, and after several decades of legislative and public policy frameworks aimed at eliminating sex discrimination and achieving greater equality between women and men in various areas of life, including in education and employment.