Boosting Women Leaders

Participants in the inaugural CAMD Executive Mentoring 2015/16 program. Photo: Meredith Foley

Museums responding to low female leader numbers, 2 November 2016

A national initiative developed to address the low number of women in Directorships across Australian museums has been announced following the success of the pilot program run this year.

Launching in November, the CAMD Executive Mentoring Program is being driven by the Council of Australasian Museum Directors (CAMD) and run by expert mentoring organisation, McCarthy Mentoring, to support aspiring female museum leaders successfully transition into the top roles.

While women are well-represented at entry and middle management levels, currently only six out of 23 member museum Directors are women.

Seventeen museums have nominated a stand-out emerging leader in a senior management role to be part of the program. They will each be connected with mentors who are museum Directors and highly regarded leaders in the sector and have generously offered to draw on their own experience navigating the path to leadership.

“Offering an independent advisor to provide experienced counsel, guidance and support can change the game in terms of performance, career progression and confidence to take risks and grab opportunities,” said McCarthy Mentoring Executive Director, Sophie McCarthy.

Participants in the pilot program reported having an experienced confidential advisor has been very valuable with key outcomes including improved overall performance (87%), making better decisions (87%), being better able to manage challenging workplace situations (80%), improved stakeholder management (80%), boost in confidence (94%) and greater clarity of their professional goals and plans (87%).

“It’s crucial we have diversity of thought at the executive table and the women who were chosen for the pilot and current program are all stand-out future leaders,” said CAMD Chair and Queensland Museum Network CEO, Professor Suzanne Miller.

“We are delighted to have such an elite group of women benefit from this unique professional development opportunity. They are all keen to develop, gain further skills and take the next step in their career,” said Professor Miller.

“Mentoring is one of the strategies that can change the figures and strengthen the gender diversity pipeline. It’s a positive and proactive approach to address the issue,” added Ms McCarthy.

The program was initially conceived by two Directors, Rose Hiscock, previously Director, Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences and now Director, Science Gallery at the University of Melbourne and Kim McKay AO, Director and Chief Executive Officer, Australian Museum, to retain and support the industry’s talented women and has had the keen support of all members of the Council of Australasian Museum Directors.

The program will involve a special event bringing all the participants together with the CAMD Executives, one to one support for each mentee, an online program of resources and networking opportunities in each state to strengthen this dynamic peer group.

McCarthy Mentoring offers a suite of formal, structured mentoring and coaching programs tailored for senior executives, high potential employees or individuals. Partnering with leading companies across the corporate, government and not for profit sectors, we design programs that drive change, engage people and develop leaders.


  • Rebecca Bushby, A/Director Curatorial, Collections & Exhibitions, Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences
  • Rachael Cox, Chief Financial Officer, Museum of Australian Democracy
  • Fiona Dalton, Governance Manager, National Museum of Australia
  • Gillian Harrison, Site Manager – Freemantle Museums, Western Australian Museum
  • Beth Hise, Head of Curatorial & Exhibitions, Sydney Living Museums
  • Chantal Knowles, Head of Cultures & Histories Program, Queensland Museum Network
  • Dr Kristy Kokegei, Manager, Digital Engagement, History SA
  • Elizabeth Marsden, Collections Manager, Sovereign Hill Museums Association
  • Kristy Matherson, Senior Film Programmer, Australian Centre for the Moving Image
  • Katherine McMahon, Head of Exhibitions & Head of Gallery Development, Australian War Memorial
  • Tamara Niznik, Head of Innovation: Smart Skills, Questacon – National Science & Technology Centre
  • Jenny Parsons, Head of Development, South Australian Museum
  • Louise Tegart, Assistant Director, Content & Innovation, Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory
  • Rebecca Tudor, Coordinator Art Education, Tasmanian Museum & Art Gallery
  • Tehmi Sukhla, Director of Marketing, Communications & Development, Australian Museum
  • Dr Elycia Wallis, Manager Online Collections, Museum Victoria
  • Lisa Walters, Director, Operations & Governance, Sydney Living Museums


  • Professor Suzanne Miller, Chair, CAMD & CEO, Queensland Museum Network
  • Dr J Patrick Greene OBE, CEO, Museum Victoria
  • Rose Hiscock, Director, Science Gallery Melbourne
  • Kim McKay AO, Director & CEO, Australian Museum
  • Tim Sullivan, Assistant Director, Australian War Memorial
  • Dr Mathew Trinca, Director, National Museum of Australia
  • Dr Wendy Were, Executive Director, Arts Development Australia Council for the Arts
  • Prof Graham Durant AM, Director, Questacon
  • Gaye Hamilton, former Director, Scienceworks & council member, Victoria University
  • Seb Chan, Chief Experience Officer, Australian Centre of the Moving Image
  • Marcus Barker, General Manager, Sydney International Piano Competition of Australia
  • Janet Carding, Director, Tasmanian Museum & Art Gallery
  • Alan Brien, CEO, Scitech
  • Janine Walker, Director, UniRecruit
  • Kate Dundas, former Deputy Secretary Arts & Culture, NSW Government & Director, ABC Radio
  • Helen O’Neill, Director, British Council Australia
  • Brian Oldman, Director, South Australian Museum