WILD Program identifies future female leaders in STEM

Thursday, 22 November, 2018

WILD Program identifies future female leaders in STEM

Twenty talented women from Victoria’s science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) sector have been selected to take part in the Women in Leadership Development (WILD) Program, designed to increase female participation at an executive and board level.

The program helps build on the qualifications, skills and confidence of women considering senior leadership roles and company directorships, and identifies the high level of candidates ready to take on senior roles. With the percentage of women on ASX 200 boards currently about 27.5% (as of April 2018), programs such as WILD put the focus on achieving sustained growth in female representation at senior levels of business.

“While female participation in Australian leadership positions is slowly on the rise, a lot of the barriers still exist, including a lack of mentors and the cost of qualifications,” said Dr Lauren Giorgio, co-founder and Program Director of WILD. “It’s our hope with the WILD Program that these barriers can be addressed, leading to more women on boards and in senior leadership positions.”

This year’s program received 70 applications from female members of Victoria’s STEM sector for the 20 spots available, with the program providing enrolment into the Company Directors Course run by the Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD), a leadership skills short-course and hands-on mentorship. Applications were assessed by a selection panel drawn from leading members of Victoria’s STEM sector, with key selection criteria including demonstration of contributions and influence within their field, an upward career trajectory and clear benefits of the WILD Program to the applicant’s career.

Krystal Evans, BioMelbourne Network CEO and a successful applicant for this year’s WILD Program, said, “This is an exciting leadership program, and it’s an incredible privilege to have been selected to take part in the WILD Program in its first year. All of the research shows that diverse teams make better decisions, and enabling more women in STEM to build their skills and pursue leadership opportunities will be a huge benefit to the broader STEM ecosystem.”

The WILD Program is led by the Centre for Eye Research Australia (CERA), supported by a project team comprising STEM professionals across Victoria and sponsored by the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science and Brandon Capital’s Medical Research Commercialisation Fund (MRCF).

“This is an important initiative in preparing women in biotech for more effective participation in development of their own careers, offers those women additional resources to equip them for future board roles and helps to ensure that the biotech sector benefits from the contributions of all its members,” said Minister for Health Greg Hunt. “I am proud to be associated with the program.”

MRCF Board Director Winsome Hall added, “We know that diversity brings better outcomes and we see its benefits in our portfolio companies. So we are pleased to support the WILD Program and look forward to other positive steps to retain talent across the sector.”

The first intake of women will commence the program in February 2019 with the AICD course and the remaining components of the program take place over the next 3–4 months.

Image caption: The 20 successful applicants for the WILD Program.

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