New Zealand’s approach to empowering women as leadersMon, Oct 28, 2019
On October 23, Dame Patricia “Patsy” Reddy, Governor-General of New Zealand, visited Waseda University and spoke to students at the School of Political Science and Economics on New Zealand’s approach to leadership and how it can have a positive impact on the business and the economy as a whole.
In her talk, Dame Patsy focused on the topics of gender equity and women in leadership roles, both in business and politics. She said that though New Zealand has not yet reached the point of being a world leader in gender equity quite yet, there have been some progressive and significant achievements, such as the huge increase observed in the number of female elected representatives. For example, in the last general election in 2017, 46 women were elected to the New Zealand Parliament, making up nearly 40% of the representatives.
“I think the most important thing to remember in terms of empowering women as leaders is that men benefit from it as well,” she added.
“Where women have made inroads into traditionally male fields in New Zealand, there have always been men supporting them, often in a very proactive way. It is notable that some of our biggest and best performing companies are those where female leaders are encouraged. When we live in a society where everyone is able to participate and contribute at every level, our communities are definitely stronger.”
During the Q&A session, a student asked what Dame Patsy’s biggest regret was as a business woman. She responded that one of the things she never does is to look back because you are who you are, and you have got to make the best of what is ahead of you.
“We all come across obstacles and hurdles in our lives. We come to crossroads, we make decisions, and there is no point in saying if only. But in commensurate with that, it means you have to be brave. I have realized through my life, I have got to pull myself up and say, why don’t I give it a go?”
Dame Patsy also added that when she finished her law degree and applied for jobs, she was unable to get any position at law firms since it had still been a male-dominant market at the time and got a position teaching law at university. However, this has forced her to get a Master’s degree and specialize, helping her gain more experience when she started to practice law.
“I have made mistakes in my life and could have done things differently, but you can make advantages from disadvantages along the way,” she said.
University President Aiji Tanaka also had the opportunity to discuss with the governor-general about the Waseda’s internationalization strategies and international exchange.
In June 2019, Waseda University, along with five of its affiliated junior and senior high schools, signed a memorandum of understanding with Education New Zealand to promote study abroad program in New Zealand. The university hopes that junior and senior high school students who participate in the program would eventually go on student exchange program during their tertiary education at Waseda University. This is part of the university’s effort in encouraging all Waseda University students to go on overseas student exchange for at least once to gain global perspectives.