The Guardian - Forget the glass ceiling, we need to fix the broken windows first

News Report - More women are breaking through the glass ceiling

Aurora Participant: Jess Luscombe, Programme and Projects Officer, Brunel University London

Aurora Participant: Dr Sally Hughes, MA Publishing Programmes Lead, Oxford Brookes University


How will Aurora benefit Coventry University as an institution?

Coventry University is launching this programme to encourage and support more women to consider and put themselves forward for senior roles, leading to:

  • Improved capability and confidence
  • Support for the ambitions and development of staff
  • Better understanding of the challenges faced by women in leadership roles
  • Regional networks of women offering support and guidance to one another

Aurora is a flagship women-only leadership development programme that began in 2013, 4613 women from 171 universities and sector bodies have completed the programme to date. The programme is split into four key themes: Identity, Impact and Voice; Power and Politics; Core Leadership Skills; Adaptive Leadership Skills; and combines education, mentoring and self-directed learning to create a development and networking experience with enduring impact.


Aurora was created to help address the issue of the reducing number of women in senior posts in higher education as outlined in the Advance HE’s Stimulus Paper ‘Women and Higher Education: Absences and Aspirations’ by Professor Louise Morley (January 2013), and supported by findings from the Office for Students.

Entry criteria

Delegates where possible will:

  • Be grade 5-9 (up to senior lecturer level or the professional services equivalent) and have passed their probation
  • Be an aspiring leader looking to apply for a leadership position in the coming 12 - 18 months or in a leadership position aspiring to apply for a more senior leadership position in the coming 12 – 18 months *
  • Gain the endorsement of their line manager before applying, ensuring that their line manager can work with them to provide work based opportunities during the life of the program to enable them to apply/share what they have learnt
  • Commit to all program dates**, ensuring they can be released from their business area at these times
  • Be clear on where their leadership skills gaps are and how Aurora will help them develop these strengths/areas of development
  • Identify a process improvement within their business area, this improvement should reduce spend, time and resources
  • Show openness and commitment to their learning journey; including seeking and receiving feedback, developing a reflective practice log (to be shared at graduation), self-directed learning throughout the programme and seeking out work based opportunities to apply/share their learning
  • Commit to working with their allocated mentor for the life of the programme and potentially beyond
  • Participate in a longitudinal study (led by the Leadership Foundation) to measure the work experiences of women in higher education, and the impact of Aurora over time
  • Post program join the Coventry University Aurora Alumni, delegates will work together to continue to develop one another, promote good practice and mentor future Aurorians
  • Commit to paying back 100% of the program fees if they leave the organisation within 2 years of starting the programme

*Please note that the Aurora does not guarantee delegates an interview if they were to apply for a leadership position or a more senior position whilst on the programme/or post programme, however it will help develop delegates core leadership skills and provide them with opportunities to gain exposure to the broader organisation and the wider HE sector.

**Please note that all internally hosted sessions will be held in Coventry although this may be flexed if we have a cross section of applicants, all external sessions hosted by the leadership foundation will be held in Birmingham, venue TBC.


How do I apply?

When the application window opens you will need to:

  • Firstly, refer to the application schedule and ensure you can commit to the full timeline
  • Share your aspiration to apply with your line manager, explore the entry criteria and gain their full endorsement before applying
  • Attend an information session (where possible both the delegate and their line manager should attend) this aspect of the application process is mandatory and the delegate's attendance must be recorded
  • Submit your application by the closing date
  • If applicants are successful they will be invited to attend a development day whereby they will participate in a short interview and will be asked to give a presentation
  • Development day applicants will be informed of the outcome and if they are successful they will be invited to join a cohort

For those applicants who are unsuccessful in securing a place on the development day, they will be given the option to receive 121 feedback on their application or attend a facilitated development planning session. The same option will also be provided to those who are unsuccessful on the development day.

The majority of potential applicant questions will be answered on attendance of the information session, however if applicants have any immediate questions that they feel need answering more urgently please contact either Lorraine Gearing (Chair of Gender, Leadership and Diversity Forum (GLaD) / Internal Aurora Champion / Senior Lead Sponsor) or Sharlene St-Claire (Internal Aurora Role Model and Program Facilitator / Coordinator)

Please note that if you require any support or need any adaptions in making an application we would be more than happy to assist, please make contact above to arrange.

You may also wish to visit the Advance HE Website, of which incorporates a whole host of information about the program and participant case studies.