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Inaugural Franklin Women mentoring program kicks off

The inaugural Franklin Women mentoring program was launched in June with 12 institutes and 54 mentor-mentee pairs coming together to commence a 6-month structured program.  

UNSW Medicine is supporting two mentees and two mentors to participate in the new program developed by Franklin Women and Serendis Leadership consultants. From UNSW Medicine, Professor Anthony Shakeshaft, Deputy Director, National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC) and Professor Katherine Boydell, Black Dog Institute will take part as mentors to women from other institutes in the program. Dr Louise Mewton from NDARC and Dr Kate Poole from UNSW School of Medical Sciences (SoMS) were selected as mentees.

Cross-institutional mentoring programs introduced in other sectors have shown a positive impact on the careers of women seeking to reach leadership positions, both in addressing organisational barriers and individual barriers experienced by women. Women are under-represented in senior leadership positions across the university sector and in health and medical research. UNSW have partnered on the program as part of the Faculty’s commitment to the UNSW Equity, Diversity and Inclusion agenda of the UNSW 2025 strategy. Participation in training and development initiatives at faculty level, university level and within the sector are key components of Medicine’s gender equity plan which aims to help UNSW Medicine reach the target of 50% women at Associate Professor and Professor level by 2025.

“This program gives our UNSW mentors and mentees the opportunity to connect with other researchers across twelve top health and medical research institutes in Sydney. It not only supports mid-career women but also provides inclusive leadership and mentoring development opportunities for both men and women already in leadership positions” It is the first of its kind in the sector and is an innovative professionally-facilitated program that aims to assist women to move into leadership positions” says Dr Anita Heywood. Dr Heywood, who is based at the UNSW School of Public Health and Community Medicine is the gender equity lead for UNSW Medicine's Equity Diversity and Inclusion Committee (MEDIC) and has sat on the Peer Advisory Committee of Franklin Women since its inception. The Franklin Women mentoring program is one of many gender equity strategies aimed at supporting women transitioning to leadership positions and develop mentoring practices of senior academics being supported through MEDIC. One of the key drivers of the success of this program is that it not only supports mid-career women move to more senior roles, but also supports both male and female mentors in developing their inclusive leadership skills.

“The fact that so many health research organisations have come on board for the inaugural year of our mentoring program demonstrates their commitment to addressing the gender imbalance in the sector and the expected impact the program will have” says Franklin Women founder, Dr Melina Georgousakis. “We expect the program will be a game-changing initiative for the health and medical research sector”.

Franklin Women have partnered with Serendis Leadership consultants who are experienced in delivering mentoring programs to help promote and develop women for senior leadership roles.“The Franklin Women Mentoring Program incorporates a number of key factors that our team have identified as critical to the success of a mentoring”, explains Serendis Program Director Bianca Havas. “‘This includes an exhaustive matching process to achieve the best fit between the mentee and their mentor; a structured program to ensure the relationship gains momentum; and the use of mentoring tools to support skill development that participants can take forward in their career. We are so excited to be bringing our leadership experience to such an important professional sector”.

2017 UNSW Mentors:

Prof Katherine Boydell, Black Dog Institute

Prof Anthony Shakeshaft, NDARC

2017 UNSW Mentees:

Dr Kate Poole, SoMS

Dr Louise Mewton, NDARC

Further details of the Mentoring Program and other information about Franklin Women:

Information about MEDIC, including details of other equity, diversity and inclusion initiatives: