Media Release by The Hon Julie Collins MP

Scholarships to lift representation of women on boards

Joint Media Release with:

  • Prime Minister Julia Gillard

Women aspiring to become board members have today been given assistance through the announcement of 70 scholarships in the Board Diversity Scholarship program.

Speaking at the Women in Leadership lunch in Sydney today, Prime Minister Julia Gillard said this initiative would help to lift the representation of women on boards in Australia.

The Board Diversity Scholarship program began in 2011, with 70 women awarded scholarships to undertake the Company Directors Course or the Mastering the Boardroom program run by the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

The Gillard Government will now fund a second round of the program – a total of 70 full fee scholarships over the coming two years – in cooperation with the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Demand for these scholarships was significant when the scheme began in 2011, with nearly 2000 women applying.

This shows that there are plenty of women in Australia who have the desire and drive to become board members.

Successful candidates from the corporate, Government and not for profit sectors will benefit from world-class training and will receive a 12 month membership of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

The Government will provide $225,000 towards these scholarships, with the Australian Institute of Company Directors providing a matching contribution in kind.

This program is crucial to ensuring that women are provided with the skills and training that they need to transition to Board positions.

This initiative is one part of the Government’s broader commitment to achieving gender equality and advancing the status of all women in Australia.

It complements the work we are doing to support women’s participation across all levels of the workforce, from those women who face significant barriers to participating in any work, right through to women in senior positions.

This includes our Fair Work Act reforms, which provides fairness and flexibility for women and promotes opportunities and equality in the workplace.

We have introduced the nation’s first Paid Parental Leave scheme, to support new mothers and enable them to maintain an attachment to the workforce.

And we have invested a record amount to make quality early childhood and care more affordable and accessible.

We are also providing leadership and engagement opportunities to women at the grass roots level through our National Women’s Alliances, and our target to achieve at least 40 per cent representation of women on Government boards by 2015.