Connecting, celebrating and developing women leaders across the higher education sector. A national platform for women at all levels to connect, share ideas and enhance their leadership skills.​​

Summit overview

The Australian Higher Education Women’s Leadership Summit is a major annual event for women at all levels to connect, share ideas and build their leadership skills. Created by Australia’s leading authority on women’s leadership, Women & Leadership Australia, the Summit has been developed in consultation with a broad range of stakeholders across the industry. 

The aim of the Summit is to contribute to the development of resolute and effective women leaders through skills development, expert advice and strategic industry based networking. The 2018 Summit will provide a unique opportunity to learn from an unparalleled group of female leaders from on the ground front-line academics and educators to inspirational executive decision makers.

This significant annual event represents a key national development platform for women in Higher Education sector to enhance their leadership knowledge and capacity. Drawing together the sector's most respected educators and thought leaders, the Summit aims to celebrate the role of women as well as equip participants with the skills, confidence and connections to consolidate their skills and plan for future career success.​​​

Supporting leadership equality and excellence

Communication, presence and influence​

Overcoming barriers and establishing enablers​

Inspiration and insight​

During the event, participants will hear from a number of inspirational higher education sector speakers about their leadership/career journeys and the key elements that have contributed to their success. Armed with this valuable insight, participants will identify their own unique gifts and talents and begin to create their personal brand and message.​

the australian

Higher Education
Women’s Leadership Summit​

summit speakers

Within the education sector, our ability to overcome challenges whilst remaining engaged and effective can and does have very real implications for providing high quality education and impactful academic research. Personal and professional resilience is not only about strength through adversity but the ability to grow and adapt as a result of disruption. In this way we learn to move forward stronger than before.​

In the higher education sector, multiple stakeholders and channels mean effective communication is imperative and can have far reaching consequences. As leaders it is important we understand our own communication style and the impact of this style on others. It is also critical that we understand communication at an interpersonal, departmental, and organisational level so as to be able to communicate key organisational objectives effectively.​

Research has found that 56 per cent of students at Australian universities are female, however this number declines rapidly thereafter when we look at women’s careers within academia. Why is there an under-representation of women in the senior ranks of university management and governance? What else can be done to highlight and change the current situation and move closer to parity, equity and equality?​

summit themes


summit details

Venue: Treasury Room, InterContinental Sydney
Dates: Friday 15th June, 2018
Start/Finish: Attendee registration will commence at 08:30
Conference sessions will conclude at 17:00

Dr Janet Smith​

Adjunct Associate Professor of Education, University of Canberra
Program Director, Women & Leadership Australia

Dr Janet Smith is an Adjunct Associate Professor of Education at the University of Canberra, where she has taught and researched in educational leadership and teacher education for the past 25 years. During her years at UC, Janet occupied a wide range of leadership positions, including Associate Dean Education, Deputy Head of School and Discipline Head. Janet’s recent work at UC involved managing and teaching national and international professional learning courses, specialising in leadership, mentoring, coaching and social and emotional learning. Janet also organised and led UC’s educational study tours to China, and taught a UC Masters of Education course at Hangzhou Normal University in China. Prior to her work at the university, Janet was a high school teacher and school leader for 16 years.

In addition to her work at the university, Janet has also worked extensively as a consultant, focusing on education, leadership, coaching, mentoring, spirituality, professional learning, teacher wellbeing and renewal. Janet holds a PhD, Master of Education, BA, and Graduate Diploma of Secondary Education.

Dr Janet Smith

summit facilitator and panel moderator

Professor Caroline McMillen

Vice-Chancellor, University of Newcastle

Treasury Room, InterContinental Sydney​

Friday 15th June, 2018

Professor Dawn Freshwater

Vice-Chancellor, University of Western Australia

Professor Marcia Devlin

Associate Deputy 
Vice-Chancellor Education, RMIT


Journalist, ABC

Professor Brian Schmidt AC

Vice-Chancellor, Australian National University

Dr Dee 

Associate Director, Workplace Diversity and Inclusion, UQ

Professor Jill Blackmore AM

Alfred Deakin Professor of Education, Deakin University

Dr Marguerite

Executive Director, Industry Mentoring Network in STEM

Professor Prem Ramburuth

President of the Academic Board; Professor, International Business, UNSW

Professor Tanya Monro

 Deputy Vice Chancellor Research and Innovation, University of South Australia