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Find out more about Aurora Leadership Development Programme for Women

02 Mar 2020

As International Women’s Day approaches, we look at the success of our participation in the Aurora programme

International Women's Day

International Women’s Day is on Sunday, 8 March and it’s a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women - while also marking a call to action for accelerating gender equality.

This year’s theme is #EachForEqual – and one of the missions is forging inclusive workplaces where women can thrive – and that’s where positive action initiatives like Aurora can help address the under-representation of women leaders in Higher Education. This is crucial as evidence shows that diverse, inclusive organisations are outperforming those that lack diversity and an inclusive culture, as a result of better decision making, increased creativity, innovation and productivity. 

Since its launch in 2013, 87 talented women from across the University have completed, or are taking part, in the Aurora programme.

We welcome applications from women, and those who identify as a woman, from all staff groups (academic and PS) and from all functions and Faculties. The Aurora programme is designed to support women into leadership roles rather than for those who are already in a leadership role. Therefore we welcome applications up to senior lecturer level or professional services equivalent who wish to develop their leadership skills and potential. 

The Aurora programme aims to enable a wider range of women to think of themselves as future leaders, providing a positive experience of leadership and encouraging participants to recognise their talent and capabilities, develop the skills they will need and to ‘step-up’ to future leadership posts.

The Aurora programme focuses on core areas associated with leadership success:

  • Understanding organisations and the sector; 
  • Developing leadership behaviours, skills and knowledge; 
  • Identifying,overcoming and challenging barriers and obstacles; 
  • Growing confidence and a leadership identity; 
  • Building networks, coalitions and support processes. 

Aurora Champion and alumna Dr Rachel Cowen, University Lead for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, said: "Aurora was a powerful and career enhancing experience for me, affirming my beliefs in my leadership potential and giving me the confidence as a part-time academic to apply for a senior leadership role.

"It’s a privilege to champion the programme so that it can enable a diverse range of women to step up to leadership.”

A review of our participation in the Aurora programme since 2013 has shown the majority of Aurora alumni are still employed at our University (81%) and 48% of these have been promoted since taking part in the programme.  National data shows that 19% of Aurora alumni have been promoted 3 years after participation in the programme, highlighting our success as an institution in outcomes.

Our University has underpinned Aurora with peer networking and participants are mentored by senior colleagues, many of whom benefited from Aurora themselves. For example, Aurora mentor Kay Hodgson, Head of School Operations, School of Environment, Education and Development says: “I attended the Aurora programme in 2015 and without a doubt it was the most enlightening Leadership Course I have ever taken part in.

"It's focus on helping women identify what it personally means to be a leader and providing tools to help develop your own adaptive leadership style was incredibly empowering.

"The mentoring aspect was also a fantastic support mechanism. Five years on I still refer to the materials and often reflect on the key messages from the programme which helps me on my leadership development journey.”

More information about Aurora:

  • An open call will go out in June 2020 for applications to the next round of the Aurora programme.
  • Further information about the programme is available through the Advance HE website. Informal expressions of interest can also be made to Rachel Cowen, Aurora Champion or Sarah Mohammad-Qureshi, Athena SWAN Co-ordinator.