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Women are taking the lead

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It was a bit of a dilemma this week deciding whether to write something cyclone related or not. There’s no doubt that Cyclone Gabrielle’s terrible impacts are still everywhere around us. At the same time I’ve heard from many people, directly and devastatingly impacted, that they need a break from focusing on it. So, with that in mind, I’m going to pick up a subject I write about most years – Women’s Day.

Eight March, long been and gone I know, is International Women’s Day and it’s a time to reflect on where we’ve come from and where we’re yet to get to. When I wrote about this in 2019, I noted a number of statistics, including that 45.7% of board and committee roles in the state sector are held by women but the number was only 22% for listed companies on the New Zealand Stock Exchange. These same statistics show some improvement – with the state sector going up to 52.5% and listed businesses to 28.5%.

This week I had the pleasure of meeting Napier City Council’s new CE, Louise Miller, the second ever female CE for Napier City Council, and presently the only female Council CE in the region. Three of the regions four Mayors however are female.

In the museum industry all the professional public museums/art galleries in Te Matau-a-Māui currently have female leaders – Central Hawke’s Bay Museum, Hastings City Art Gallery, Wairoa Museum and MTG Hawke’s Bay. And Regional Museums around Te Ika-a-Māui / the North Island are almost exclusively run by female Directors – from Whangārei through to Te Papaioea / Palmerston North. While regional art galleries across the North Island have a move even split between male and female Directors.

Our major metropolitan institutions do not fare as well – with Auckland Museum, Canterbury Museum and Otago Museum all run by men, two of them from overseas. Te Papa is a stand out among this group with New Zealand female Director, Courtney Johnson. Art Galleries tend to do a bit better and this is reflected in the metropolitan galleries with a 50/50 split between male and female Directors.

Of course such a small pool of metropolitan institutions is hardly statistically significant, but it does seem to be unusual for female Directors to break the glass ceiling in Aotearoa / New Zealand’s major museums. Te Papa in its 25 year’s existence has had two female Directors compared with five male Directors. Auckland Museum has only had one female Director in its 171 years. Canterbury Museum and Otago Museum to the best of my knowledge have never had female Directors. So, in the museum/gallery sector, the regions are really leading the way.

Published in the Hawke’s Bay Today newspaper 25 March 2023 and written by Laura Vodanovich, Director at MTG Hawke’s Bay.

27 March 2023

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