The future of women leaders is in strong hands


​The first cohort from BCE's Women - Breakthrough to Principalship Program are ready to hand on their batons

​BRISBANE Catholic Education (BCE) is addressing the leadership gender gap, introducing an innovative new program encouraging more women to take up school principalship roles. 

Through the inaugural Women - Breakthrough to Principalship program, 21 women gained practical tools to help them take the next step in their career and build their confidence to lead in schools. 

As part of BCE's Diversity and Inclusion Strategy, the experiential learning program helps participants develop a new mindset about how they practice leadership in a complex, changing educational environment.  

BCE Executive Director Pam Betts, who sponsored the year-long program, said its aim was to address the need to increase the number of women in principalship positions in BCE schools. 

“Currently only one in three primary principals and one in five secondary principals are women despite BCE's overall workforce in schools being more than 80 per cent female," Miss Betts said. 

“This program gives us a platform to turn these statistics around and encourage more women into leadership roles across our schools."  

Facilitated by the University of Queensland, the program is already reaping rewards with four participants successful in securing long-term acting principalship positions and one securing a substantive principalship for 2022. 

The group first met in March this year and spent time exploring some of the challenges of adaptive leadership with program facilitators Polly Parker, Professor in Leadership and Associate Dean (Academic) in the Faculty of Business, Economics and Law at The University of Queensland (UQ) and Jennifer Witheriff, a consultant with UQ Executive Education. 

They also took part in three online webinars and engaged in preparation work aligned with the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (ATSIL) Principal Standard, which asked them to identify their leadership objectives and personal development planning. 

At a final two-day workshop on October this year, each participant received a certificate from BCE Strategy and Performance Executive Balveen Ajimal and a symbolic baton, which they were encouraged to pass on to the next cohort of potential women leaders. 

Participant and Acting Assistance Principal Cathie Caldwell, from Our Lady of Lourdes School, Sunnybank, said one of the most significant outcomes of the program was the mobilisation of the group in coming together to support and advocate for each other as well as for other leaders, particularly women.   

Mrs Caldwell said through the program the personal and professional growth of the group had been immense.  

“We are committed to mobilising people so our organisation can thrive in this changing and challenging world while demonstrating balance and belonging," she said. 

“As a group, we will be a voice for others in Brisbane Catholic Education." 

She said she felt privileged to work in an organisation that invested in its leaders.  

“We can look forward with hope, knowing the future of BCE is in good, strong hands," she said. ​

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