Document Type

Conference publication

Publication details

Wallace, M 2007, 'Human resource development and female middle managers in Australian universities', in R Chapman (ed.), Managing our intellectual and social capital: proceedings of the 21st Australian and New Zealand Academy of Management Conference, Sydney, NSW, 4-7 December, Promaco Conventions Pty Ltd., Canning Bridge, WA.


The numbers of females and males employed in higher education in Australia are roughly equal but women hold only 24% of managerial positions. Much of the research on the position of women in academe assumes that women already have all of the qualifications, experience and specific skills to assume management roles. However it has been identified that that the leadership attitudes, performance and development needs of women managers in universities have been neglected and they have less ‘human capital’ than their male counterparts.

This paper explores the human resource development opportunities of women from academic and administrative streams working in middle management in Australian universities. The study involved a paper-based survey sent to all women identified as middle managers on the Australian Vice-Chancellors’ 2004 Website List of Senior University Women. Questions focussed on their work life, qualifications and development opportunities.

A demographic profile of the women is presented and the findings are analysed in light of this. In summary, a large proportion of academic women experienced few HRD opportunities in preparation for their current roles and even less development once in those roles. Most stated that their formal qualifications did not prepare them for many aspects of their leadership roles. Administrative women reported some prior HRD, however, once in their roles, they reported a marked decline in development opportunities.

The specific HRD opportunities are discussed at some depth. The paper concludes with the women’s suggestions for better practice in HRD for emerging female managers.