30 August 2022

The WIL programme was introduced by University South Africa’s (USAf) Higher Education Leadership and Management (HELM) initiative in 2002, which was founded after a series of research projects revealed that at least 35% of women leaders noted gender bias, isolation and lack of support for women in middle management positions.

“Amongst its aims, the WIL programme’s purpose is to develop a woman as a leader, promote gender equality and promotes multi-perspectives in ways of being and doing,” says Professor Wayi-Mgwebi.

During the introductory meeting held in May this year, delegates were introduced to the key components of the programme, which include fortnightly three-hourly sessions, peer learning groups, individual coaching sessions and reflective sessions.

“This programme offers a holistic approach to development which appreciates a woman’s role in their development, networking and learning from experiences of other women and importantly an opportunity to have a dedicated coach who is available for the period of six months to attend to any area of need from the candidate.”

Professor Wayi-Mgwebi says, “At the beginning of this year one of items on my vision board was self-development. I approached several service providers to enquire about their services and was also actively doing research about how to approach a mentor or coach.

“As it is said that the universe responds to one’s vibration, the WIL programme came right when I was busy exploring these and it is offering me more than what I had planned to focus on.”

Importance of Sharing experiences

Professor Wayi-Mgwebi further mentions that research shows that the majority of women do not have an active mentor in the workplace, unlike their male counterparts who tend to easily get personal mentors.

“Women still achieve most of their goals and even more with no personal mentors, but I believe the journey would have been much lighter, will less effects on their health if one had a mentor,” she adds.

“We tend to do more work as we allow society to pressure us to prove that we can be great leaders, mothers, housekeepers, partners, sisters, and mentors. All this by ourselves. I am truly excited that this programme offers one-to-one full mentorship. Joining the programme whilst still grappling with the aftereffects of the pandemic is also a form of therapy,” she says.

Having attended only a few sessions thus far, Professor Wayi-Mgwebi says she already feels like she has been through an intensive yearlong personal growth Masterclass, because of the wealth of information shared by respected presenters – from the lectures to various speakers who have been invited to share their knowledge and experience.

“We also had an inspiring networking session with former participants of the programme who brought the experience closer by sharing their journey and some tips on how to ensure maximum benefit from the programme,” she adds.

“At the end of the programme, I expect to be more assertive, confident, and have improved goal management. Furthermore, I strongly believe that being in the programme will assist me to be a better mentor, drawing from my experience on the programme and that of others through shared stories.”

Professor Wayi-Mgwebi concludes: “Sharing experiences is one of the key techniques of the programme, either through ad hoc groups during sessions, self-reflective stories, peer learning groups and through interactions on CANVAS, the learning management system used. It is my hope that I will adopt the same techniques at the school, where possible.”

@ Story by Lisa Thabethe. Additional source: Universities South Africa (USAF). Pictures supplied.