Women’s leadership advocate recognised for social impact
Dr Diann Rodgers-Healey, Director of Australian Centre for Leadership for Women Pty Ltd, is this year's recipient of the Alumni Award for Social Impact.
When Dr Rodgers-Healey moved to the region for a sea change, she saw UOW as a place of opportunity; a place where she could further her education and contribute as an academic.
“I am a very passionate educator,” she says, adding that it is a privilege to be recognised by the University at this year’s awards ceremony.
“It’s such an honour to be recognised in the category of Social Impact as it defines so much of my drive and work. It’s great to be recognised by my Alma Mater and it feels like a wonderful coming home in that I am recognised for the best of what I have offered to women and men and in the range of contexts that I have encountered.”
Dr Rodgers-Healey, who completed a PhD in Education (2009) and a Graduate Certificate in Business Coaching (2011) at UOW, is unequivocally passionate about gender equality.
On the topical subject of quotas as a way of addressing gender inequality in government and business, Dr Rodgers-Healey says she believes it is necessary to strategically level the playing field.
“A valuing of women at the decision-making table to create an inclusive culture has not happened,” she said, adding that decades of unequal gender representation on boards reflects poorly on the application of meritocracy in Australia.
“The quota approach offers the strongest case for rapid increase in women on boards. Temporary incremental mandatory quotas catalyse short-term changes and can be effective, if supported by a cultural shift and diversity measures including flexibility, affordable childcare, addressing bias and pipeline advancement.”
In 2000, Dr Rodgers-Healey founded the Australian Centre for Leadership for Women and continues to run it single-handedly as Director. The Centre represents her commitment to promoting the status of women as leaders in Australia and internationally. Leadership then is an area of expertise that Dr Rodgers-Healy has spent much time contemplating.
“Both hard and soft skills matter for a leader, because a leader needs to not only influence with authenticity but also needs to substantiate their vision with hard skills that enable its design, implementation, fine-tuning and evaluation,” she said.
“The foundation of leadership, I believe, is in the hard skills so that one is not just all talk, but action and talk.”
Dr Rodgers-Healey believes anyone can be a leader.
“Leadership develops incrementally through life provided that you remain engaged in the world around you and decide, based on your inner framework, what you make of it and what you want to do to improve the situation for others.
“Leadership is about honouring your inner drive and utilising your experience, skills, knowledge and intellect to act. The connection to your values makes your leadership authentic.”
In 2013, Dr Rodgers-Healey launched her book 'Women's Activism - Insights for empowering women from global women activists' on International Women’s Day 2013 at UOW.
A year later, Dr Rodgers-Healey launched another publication, ‘Considerations for Australia’s Next Woman Prime Minister’, at Parliament House Sydney.
Dr Rodgers-Healey believes we will see another female leader in Australia very soon.
“In both major parties, the Deputy position is held by experienced women who in their own right, even now can be Prime Minister,” she said.
“Moreover, there are high-level women of talent and growing experience in the Cabinet. It is only a matter of time.”
“As momentum builds to respect women and tackle sexism on many fronts, the misogynist context that diminished Gillard’s Prime Ministership won’t have a chance to replay as we advance in our attitudes and in calling out sexism against women.”