UC Women's Group Mentoring Program

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The Women's Group Mentoring Program (WGMP) has run each year at the University of Canberra since 1999. Over 240 people have participated. Image: Deutsch: Schuh mit Libelle, Libelle mit Schuh Author Lokilech.

The Women's Group Mentoring Program (WGMP) has run each year at the University of Canberra since 1999. Over 240 people have participated. This site is a meeting and knowledge exchange space for current and past participants and interested others.


The aim of the Women’s Group Mentoring Program is to:

  • forge links across the University;
  • give isolated staff a reference group;
  • give constructive support to staff at all levels in the University;
  • increase knowledge of, and participation in, university governance, research activities and leadership roles.

Expected outcomes for participants of the Program are:

  • the development of enduring relationships and networks;
  • career enhancement and acceleration with career training and development; and
  • greater support leading to greater satisfaction with work and career.

Expected outcomes for the University are:

  • the development of talent;
  • better motivation and work performance;
  • a healthy, productive work environment; and
  • an increase in communication and understanding.


The University of Canberra Women’s Group Mentoring Program was initiated by the UC Equity and Diversity Committee and Women’s Professional Development Committee in 1999 with strong support from the Vice Chancellor. It is targeted to assist women in developing their careers. It has been conducted as an annual program each year since then with about twenty participants each year. A total of over 220 participants have graduated from this program since 1999. In each program participants form into two groups; one with a focus on academic and research development, and one with a focus on career and professional development. Both groups also interact with each other during the year. The yearly program starts with a 3 day residential workshop to build relationships and a strong purpose and development agenda for each group. Each group has two dedicated co-facilitators with diverse backgrounds who work with the group during the year. The role of the co-facilitators is to build self-management capacity within the group so that they can peer mentor each other and arrange additional mentoring input from outside the group as required. In 2010 each group was setup to be more self managing with participants rotating through the co-facilitation roles.


The program has been evaluated at several times in its history with surveys and interviews with participants, supervisors and facilitators.

The Hunt Report (2001) described the outcomes for participants of the Program to have been:

  • a greater awareness by academics of the work undertaken by General Staff,
  • a greater understanding of the working of the University,
  • improved status,
  • improved communication, and
  • greater confidence.

The McCormack and West Report (2003) identified the personal and professional benefits to program participants to include:

  • increased networking opportunities,
  • increased self-confidence and self-belief;
  • improved career progression prospects, and
  • increased knowledge and skills.

Outcomes for the University

The percentage of participants who reported that their project/activity or participation in the program had made a positive contribution to UC was as follows:

  • an increase in communication (97%),
  • an increase in the expertise and skills available to the University (79%),
  • encouragement to others (79%),
  • increased motivation and positive staff attitudes (75%),
  • assistance to new staff in understanding how the job/Division/University functions (64%), and
  • a change in policy (21%).

It was reported that "These outcomes will lead to more consistency of information and better communications between Divisions. Having a core of women who are highly motivated, able to assist new staff and provide encouragement will provide a smoother transition for new staff." This has assisted UC in becoming an employer of choice.


At the individual level, it is clear that the Program is having a positive effect on the participants’ working lives. This is evident not only in terms of promotion, but in the participation on special projects, increased networks and participants feeling more positive about themselves, their contribution and their workplace. The University is able to take advantage of the talents and potential of its women staff. Women are contributing more to the University as a result of their participation in the Program.

The Group Mentoring Program for Women has been successful in its stated aims. It has enabled women to forge links across the University, give isolated staff a reference group, give constructive support to staff at all levels in the University, and increase knowledge of, and participation, in university governance, research activities and leadership roles (Hunt 2001).

The developmental focus of the University of Canberra Group Mentoring Program for Women was found to provide clear outcomes and benefits for participants and the university. The group structure, functionality and the self-directed aspects of the program work extremely well to meet the program’s purpose and objectives and are key factors in the success of this program. Group mentoring is a balancing act: individual / institutional focus, personal / professional development, specific / non-specific knowledge and skill acquisition. The Women’s Group Mentoring Program at the University of Canberra encouraged the development of learning communities because it encouraged planning and action through dialogue and consensus; it fostered a collective sense of being/doing rather than an individual focus; it facilitated and maintained relationships across the organisation; and it fostered a culture and process to support learning beyond the boundaries of the program (West and McCormack 2003).

Stories from participants from 2010[edit]

Stories from participants from 1999-2009[edit]

Survey results (conducted with 17 past participants in 2010)
Interviews about the most significant changes for participants since they participated in the program

Gaynor's story
Participant 2's story
Participant 3's story
Beryl's story
Participant 5's story
Participant 6's story
Participant 7's story (a manager story)
Participant 8's story
Judith's story (a facilitator story)
Participant 10's story

Video clips

What are the most significant changes for you as a result of the program? The most significant change for each interviewee was:

  1. ceasing to work in two part time jobs and applying for and getting a different full time job.
  2. that my self confidence grew. I strongly realized that I did not want to be a victim as I got older.
  3. the ongoing friendships and personally an increase in my own confidence.
  4. the networking – in both directions
  5. gaining more confidence.
  6. being empowered to take more initiative.
  7. being a facilitator and a manager at the same time and the professional development I experienced to enhance my role as a manager.
  8. building bridges across the university.
  9. reading a book we used on group processes. I was a skilled facilitator but it gave me a theoretical framework. It made me reflect on facilitation as an important skill and a legitimate form of leadership.
  10. the connections and the sense of impetus for the undertaking the next thing. I can use that experience as a template for a new job or a new house. It is good for goal setting and support for achieving goals with a network of support around you. It helped me define my goals. You can’t achieve something if you are too vague about it.


Dr Coralie Mccormack's story

University of Canberra website

Women only programs for building gender equitable workplaces - Jennifer de Vries story UWA


EOWA Employer of Choice for Women University of Canberra 2009 Application Form

Hunt, L (2001) Evaluation of the Group Mentoring Program for Women, an unpublished report to the Women’s Professional Development Committee, University of Canberra, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory.

West, D & McCormack, C (2003) ‘Women’s Group Mentoring Programs: Chit chat or effective professional development?’ in LJ Moxham, S Walker, T Dwyer, KM Douglas, and J Wooller (eds), ‘Discovery: Discovering Research, Discovering Education, Discovering Self’, proceedings of the 2003 Women in Research Conference, Central Queensland University, Rockhampton, 13-14 November.

McCormack, C., & West, D. (2006). Facilitated group mentoring develops key career competencies for university women: a case study. Mentoring and Tutoring, Vol. 14(4), pp. 409-431.

Dart, J. Most Significant Change description Most Significant Change method publications

2012-13 Program[edit]

14 people started the 2012-13 WGMP with a residential workshop on 11-13 July 2012. This space is for participants to share knowledge and co-create their learning projects.

WGMP 2012 - 2013 - Breast Cancer Awareness Campaign website and logo created as group project

Article in UC Monitor on Breast Cancer Awareness Stall at O-Week Market Day

Graduation ceremony group presentation Prezi

Graduand Amber Standley's story and new business

Photo of graduates with Vice Chancellor at presentation ceremony

Monitor article

2011-12 Program[edit]

12 people started the 2011-12 WGMP with a residential workshop on 8-10 June 2011. This space is for participants to share knowledge and co-create their learning projects.

Prezi of the residential workshop

Final presentation at graduation ceremony

Participants organised and hosted professional development workshops on How to have a Difficult Conversation, Project Management, How to say No, or Yes with qualifiers and Change Management

Article in UC Monitor on graduation ceremony

2010-11 Program[edit]

14 people started the 2010-11 WGMP with a residential workshop on 30 June - 2 July 2010. This space is for participants to share knowledge and co-create their learning projects.

Prezi of the residential workshop

One of the first events organised by the WSW group for their JIVE series was a talk with Virginia Haussegger that 140 people attended.

The second public event was a talk with Annabelle Peagrum

The third public event was a talk with Keith Lyons

The fourth public event was a talk with Tjanara Goreng Goreng and reported in the UC Monitor online

The fifth public event was a talk with Holly Northam (talk starts at 3:39mins)

Program schedule and invitations for JIVE Series seminars