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Women in Academic Leadership

2021 dates and location TBA #WomenAcLeaders

Join the community of women leaders in higher education

Prepare to take the next step in your higher education career with this unique and innovative five-day residential program from  the Centre for Higher Education Research and Development (CHERD), and enhance your higher education  leadership potential.   

Women in Academic Leadership was designed for the women who will become our next academic leaders, women like you. Build your leadership skills and learn how to address the unique issues you may face in the higher education environment.

CHERD realizes that although we have made progress, women are still significantly under-represented across senior academic positions. In fact, many Canadian universities have yet to appoint a female president.

Be a part of it in 2021

If you have achieved an early to mid-level of academic leadership and now have your sights on reaching higher levels of academic leadership, join us. Let’s work together, to make a difference in the world of higher education and in your career.

2019 facilitators

Pat Bradshaw, Facilitator

Pat is a Professor of Management at the Sobey School of Business at St. Mary’s University in Halifax, NS. Previously, she was the Dean of the Sobey School of Business. She has served as a professor in the Schulich School of Business at York University where she was cross-listed with Women’s Studies. Pat has researched and written about non-profit governance, leadership and organizational change. Over the past 30 years, she has consulted on strategic planning and governance, and provided executive education and training for a number of organizations.

Read more about Pat Bradshaw

Women should not assume that academic leadership positions will come as a natural development in their careers. Rather they will want to set personal goals, learn about leadership models, take the initiative and leverage the opportunity to learn from experienced female mentors. A program providing these unique opportunities has not been available in Canada until now.

“In my opinion, there is a huge gap and there is clearly a need for such a program. Until now, it was just overlooked,” says Pat Bradshaw, Professor of Management and former Dean of the Sobey School of Business at St. Mary’s University in Halifax NS, and content provider for the Women in Academic Leadership Program. This program from the Centre for Higher Education Research and Development (CHERD) is designed to bring women, who are thinking about moving forward in academic leadership, together to learn from experienced female mentors, to build on their leadership skills, and to create a supportive community of support. Offered for the first time in fall 2018 it was very well received with the second offering taking place in fall 2019.

A strategic imperative
“There are so many academic leadership job searches going on right now across Canada. It is a strategic imperative for universities and colleges to create succession plans and to prepare high-potential female leaders,” Bradshaw says.

“There are expectations on post-secondary institutions to have strong leaders who represent the diverse communities they serve. We know that diversity in leadership teams results in better decisions. It is also the right thing to do. We need to continue to develop our up-and-coming superstars,” she says.

“Sometimes the people who we believe are qualified to be administrators are not the ones who want to be administrators. Universities and colleges will want to encourage high potential female leaders to feel empowered, to explore their career options and make better informed choices with the support of this new program.”

A strong business case
“Leadership is required in Nova Scotia,” she says. “Content is outdated before we graduate. We need skills, international perspective, different strategies, an understanding of people and trends. Administrative leadership jobs have become much more complicated. At this time of deep accountability, there is a very strong business case for this program.”

Originally from Toronto, Bradshaw started her career at Imperial Oil with a bachelor of commerce degree. She soon discovered that it would take further education to succeed. “In that gendered environment, I had to get ahead. I flipped a coin, to choose between an MBA and a PhD. The coin chose the MBA. I chose the PhD, and I fell in love with the academic world.”

She earned her PhD at York University, and taught in Women’s Studies and Administrative Studies, as she raised her three children.  Bradshaw was considering retirement when SFU recruited her as the first woman dean of the Sobey School of Business. She relocated to Halifax and served as dean for six years.

Over the past 30 years, in addition to her academic and administrative career, Bradshaw has consulted on strategic planning and governance, and provided executive education and training for a number of organizations. She is an expert in non-profit governance.

“It’s good to reflect now on what I have learned and the advice I would give future women leaders. It’s fun to take my personal experience and go back to the theory, having lived leadership for six years.”

School’s first woman dean
“I was the first woman dean at the Sobey School of Business. I was helping people understand I did things in a different way. My style was different. I was different. Expectations were based on gender. I was very engaged with the students and the student leaders. I went to Toronto to cheer them on. I advocated for them. When I left, many came to thank me. They told me I had become like their second mother. I scolded them sometimes. I had an enthusiastic focus on the individual. It took people a while to get used to that. A colleague told me my enthusiasm for students rubbed off on him. It had an effect.”

Of course, she also faced some of the unique issues that women academic leaders face, and in the Women in Academic Leadership program, she says, she will be a part of creating a safe place to discuss such issues and improve confidence in dealing with them. “Women still get shut down, harassed, bullied, and discriminated against. These things still happen. It’s getting better. Women are moving into leadership positions. It’s significantly better, and there is a climate to talk about this now.”

Bradshaw remembers dealing with harassment by a department chair at another university before she moved to York for her PhD studies. “A male colleague who was quite committed to social justice told me you either sleep with him or fight with him. I said no. I left.”

With the current focus on Indigenization and the need to be more inclusive, with the pressures of social media, and the focus on marginalized populations including women, students and administrators alike can feel depressed and anxious, she says. “How do we teach our students to have the confidence to go out into the world, to scan the environment, understand the context, and appreciate the need for change and disruption?”

A safe space
The program is more than talking heads and theory.

“Having a safe place where women can discuss these abuses of power and how they can still manifest themselves creates an opportunity to learn how others deal with it, and how to navigate this challenging terrain. We will be working diligently to create that safe space.”

Women will share new insights and skills, she says. “It will be a deep sharing, to build inner capacity. If, as a result of attending, women feel more able to go out into the world and make a difference as a leader, I will be thrilled.”

Joanne Keselman, Facilitator

Joanne is Provost Emeritus at the University of Manitoba. Previously, at the U of M, she held the positions of Provost and Vice President (Academic), Vice President (Research), Interim Vice President (Administration), Associate Vice President (Research), and Associate Dean of Education. She has also served on the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canadas (NSERC) and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) as well as numerous other national and local boards. She is a professor of psychology, and previously was a professor of educational psychology.

What women said about the program

“I am leaving here with more of a spark than when I arrived. This is an opportunity for learning and reflection, with an incredible added bonus. You develop a network with women you may have no chance of otherwise meeting.

“Leadership is believing in yourself. Do what you need to do to accomplish this.”

Keltie Jones, Faculty of Agriculture, Dalhousie University

“It was broad and diverse, an enriching experience. The peer sharing as well as the quality of the mentors and the facilitators really contributed to the experience. The mentor groups were smaller, and everyone was very honest about their challenges, strategies and tools.

“Do you want the title or do you want the job? That question stuck with me. Don’t be afraid of change and challenges. Continue your growth journey.”

Susan Tighe, Deputy Provost and Associate Vice-President Integrated Planning and Budgeting at University of Waterloo

“My dean/boss told me and my two female colleagues we needed to come. There are only three women in our faculty council. It was a great event, fantastic. It gave me framework for high-level thinking and practical tools. It showed me how to find a vision from the bottom up, to get people to walk in each other’s shoes.

“I am from Brazil. I came to Canada for my job. It gave me the opportunity to get to know people from other provinces, to learn about cultures and values.”

Ana Campos, Director, School of Interdisciplinary Science, McMaster University

Remember our previous events. Visit Archive.

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