NPP Projects

Mentoring Women from Regional Australia to Realise their Educational and Career Aspirations in Business and Law

Lead University: University of Newcastle

Lead Researcher: Kate Ramzan-Levy

Research Team: Kate Ramzan-Levy, Johanna Macneil, Paul Stolk, Sher Campbell and Tamara Young

Year Funded: 2016

Funding Received: $166,194

DOI: 10.6084/m9.figshare.6988799.v1



This project aimed to improve the participation, retention and success of women from regional areas and low SES backgrounds studying business and law. A mentoring program provided high school students with insights into university and professional opportunities available to graduates, and university students an opportunity to develop mentoring and leadership skills. A website and app will provide the foundation for online and distance mentoring programs.

Project outline

  • The project implemented a mentoring program for women from low socioeconomic status (SES) backgrounds in regional areas in high school and university to help them realise their educational and career aspirations, with the aim of improving participation, retention and success in higher education in business and law.
  • Between May and November 2017, the EMPOWER mentoring program was delivered. The program connected female high school and university students to industry professionals to inspire and inform them about study and career opportunities available in business and law.
  • EMPOWER aimed to:
    • give young women the confidence and strength to navigate and manage their own career development
    • create new networks and enable young women to increase their social capital
    • develop networking and business communication skills
    • expand workplace knowledge sets through experience
    • increase the level of attainment achieved in their studies to improve their future study and work outcomes.
  • These aims were achieved through:
    • a combination of face-to-face and online experiences and interactions between high school students, university students and industry professionals
    • providing high school students with access to university resources, enabling them to become more familiar with the higher education environment
    • providing university students with the opportunity to play a dual role of both the mentor and mentee, developing their leadership skills
    • providing industry mentors the opportunity to develop their leadership skills and support the next generation of business professionals
    • using technology as a tool to enable mentoring from a distance.

Key findings

  • Of the university students who completed the post-participation survey:
    • 86 per cent said they had developed the skills to manage their career
    • 83 per cent said they were more confident in the skills and knowledge they possessed.
  • Of the high school students who completed the post-participation survey:
    • 71 per cent believed that since participating in the program they were better at identifying and stating their strengths
    • 71 per cent of respondents confirmed that since participating in the program they had greater awareness of networks to access for help and information.
  • Across the three main parties participating in the pilot—high school students, university students and industry mentors—overall, the experience was an extremely positive one that provided benefits to their individual and professional development.
  • Following the experimental and knowledge acquisition focus of the 2017 pilot, the research team built a strong foundation to further develop an online mentoring program to complement face-to-face interactions and activities. The launch of a website and app in 2018 will provide the basis to further develop and create a best practice model and method for online and distance mentoring programs.
  • The evaluation undertaken provides a solid body of evidence and knowledge to develop new and informative research projects. Of particular interest to the research team has been the concept of the development of a professional identity and the extent to which social learning can influence this development.

Summary prepared by the NCSEHE.


Posted 8 June 2018