New Zealand has never been one to shy away from women’s rights, but there’s still work to be done.
Next month the University of Canterbury wants students to take a step back and take a realistic look at the lack of females in prominent leadership roles in New Zealand. Centred around Women’s Day, the university is hosting a Women’s Future month.
Students Zo Zhou and Erin Helliwell are organising the event, which will feature a panel discussion on some of the challenges and opportunities women face in different industries each week throughout the month.
Speakers include Dr Lucy Johnston and Georgina Carvell to discuss women’s roles in science and engineering, Dr Sonia Mazey to discuss women’s roles as social or commercial entrepreneurs, and Ruth Todd to discuss women’s place in the media. Zhou and Helliwell are still looking for women to join the panel discussing women’s role in politics.
They were inspired by film Miss Representation, an American documentary exploring how women are under-represented in influential positions by the mainstream media.
Zhou says she hopes this event will make women will begin to question why less than 20 percent of females are in the top tiers of politics, media, science and business.
Zhou attributes this statistic to an outdated misconception that “women don’t make good leaders”.
“The events explore the challenges and opportunities women face in their journey to the top,” she says.
“However, even if we can't change media representation overnight, for example, bringing this issue into the open will hopefully mean that we are more conscious about changing the little, and big things, we do that might discourage women from fulfilling their potential.”