UC Women's Group Mentoring Program/Judith's story
Most Significant Change 
Contact details 
Name of storyteller: Judith Anson
Name of person recording story: Mark Spain
Date of recording: 23 July 2010
How did you become involved in UC WGMP? 
Dianne Coward was a key person for initiating the program. I was grateful for the opportunity to chair the Women’s Group Mentoring Program by Val Clifford when she left. Both Dianne and Val enabled me to take a leadership position. I didn’t think I was worthy of this but they mentored me.
1. What changes have you noticed since you have finished the program? 
- 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.
2. What has been the MOST significant change? 
The most significant change for me was 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.
Beginning (situation before the change)
I didn’t know I was skilled at facilitation. I didn’t know it was important. I was not fully aware of how well I could read people and situations and the emotional dynamic of interactions.
Middle (what happened)
It confirmed to me leadership can be from behind, sideways, a gentle hand or a kick up the bum. Many senior people don’t recognize what I call the social glue to allow collegiate, cooperative development.
End (situation after)
I am presently in a faculty that does value these skills. It grows? Me and gives me confidence. There are many ways to work with people to create results. I have turned this area into a highly interactive group. Like the WGMP I started with a retreat and an evening around the fire. I pulled them together in a month. It’s valuing people for their differences.
I did a workshop in 2003 where we divided into eight forms of leaders. Two of us came out as facilitative leaders. Others couldn’t see that you could be a leader any other way except from the front.
The head of school needed someone to do the day-to-day running in 2005. Then I was made Dean but I didn’t have research qualifications. It needed an outward looking role. I had a vision. We needed to knit people together with inter-professional practice and learning. I used these and other agreed principles to design and engage people to build the new building we will be housed in. It came to sixteen offices with big, little and no windows and we had seven principles to apply and three disciplines to fit people effectively into the offices. They are like tribes and weren’t going to be mixed up and heads needed to be next to support. The senior people ended up with the little windows facing west and the junior staff with big windows facing east. The only complaint I had was from one person who said their window was too big.
I am always encouraging women. I get pleasure from seeing people grow and move on. I am very pleased I got 100% USS scores for one of my units. I don’t need external affirmation. I’m lucky I’m in a position I don’t require financial gain. I love my students.
I want to look after these beginning researchers. I want their careers to blossom. If I didn’t have that I couldn’t keep working here. I loved being dean. I am very proud of my achievements. I have always liked teaching and taking people forward. We’ve just appointed three people to this area. They are fantastic researchers but they are not equipped to teach first year like their job expects. Our job is to nurture people.
3. Why was this change significant for you? 
It is significant because of two things:
- It gives me personal vindication by allowing others to fly
- To take the kernel of a potential and see it flourish gives me amazing satisfaction. To see other’s personal growth is very rewarding.
I’ve got kids coming back to me still to tell me how they are going. You’ve touched people’s lives.
My intention is to be a guiding light and supporting women, especially in science. Most women drop out at 40 in science. It’s stacked against them. You are judged more critically. This is why I got involved in the first place. A lot of successful women are single. There is a third whammy. Women are the social glue, facilitators and say yes to their own detriment. It is programs like the WGMP that are essential to help women step aside and get a different view.
Group mentoring works because women have a social network. The problem with splitting academics and general staff is class. The academic women are not always valuing what the general staff women have to bring. They are duplicating a male model for science. Male is one way. This is another way. Lab based science is very intensive. You have to give them resilience and a framework to do science differently.
from Jess Dart http://www.clearhorizon.com.au