January 2020
SheLeads program from Blairgowrie Yacht Squadron

What we did

We created a workshop called ‘SheLeads’ in 2019. It is designed to empower women in sport to play a role in leading their club and sharing their ideas on the future of the sport.

Our General Manager Amanda Jacobs and Leadership Coach Aimee Foster designed the interactive workshop to:

  • redress perceived barriers to women’s participation in leadership at the club
  • demonstrate the pathway to leadership in our club and invite women to take part
  • provide tools and techniques to help participants improve their vocal and physical presence and build networks
  • foster participants’ confidence to share their stories and ideas in a leadership setting
  • highlight the leadership skills participants already have gained through being involved in the sport, including resilience, strategic thinking, communication, team work, passion, grit and determination 

We ran the free workshop between 10am and 3pm on 15 June. We sent invitations to female club members who had already shared their feedback on:

  • the barriers they felt limited their participation in leadership
  • whether a workshop could help them overcome some of these barriers.

Seven women between the ages of 18 and 30 attended the workshop and we had a facilitator run the sessions and a videographer conducted interviews with each of the participants during the workshop to get greater insight into perceived barriers, articulate the skills they do have and indicate whether the workshop was helping them.

Why we did it

General Manager Amanda Jacobs had returned to the club in 2018 to take up the position she had previously held until 2015. She was immediately struck by the lack of women in leadership roles. There were no women on the general committee and only one woman on any of the subcommittees. This was in stark contrast to the percentage of women who made up our club’s membership (49%) and their presence on the water, with some of the club’s most accomplished sailors being female.

As a club, we wanted SheLeads to help foster a pipeline of female members into leadership positions because collectively we recognised that greater diversity would deliver better results for our sport.


How we know it worked

The workshop coincided with the early stages of the club’s restructure. Our focus on women in leadership led the Commodore to invite two women to sit on the new executive committee.

In addition, we invited workshop participants to volunteer for two additional positions; one on the membership subcommittee and one the clubhouse subcommittee. Two participants immediately took up the offer. Both women were invited to be mentored by the subcommittee chairs.

Responses from feedback forms distributed at the workshop indicate participants found it exceptionally beneficial.

When asked ‘how likely are you to use the techniques at this workshop in your own leadership journey’ all participants selected ‘Definitely’. In addition, all participants indicated that the workshop inspired them to contribute more to leadership forums within the club.

Participants also indicated that they particularly found the biggest value from sessions on presentation, thinking on the spot and becoming more confident and assertive.

Testimonials included:

“This is a fabulous workshop and is unlike any leadership workshop or conference I’ve ever been to. It’s inspiring and motivated me to become more involved in my club.”

“This program empowers women to reach their potential and is a means for establishing equality in sporting leadership roles. It explores and practices the skills and techniques to grow into a confident female leader.”

“This program brought the presence of girls in sailing to the forefront in my mind, making it clear to me that change needs to occur, and that I can be a part of this positive development.”

“This workshop was so insightful and encouraging for how we as women can become leaders in sport along with providing us with the tools to be the best leaders we can be.”

SheLeads is now a permanent fixture on our sailing and social program and two additional workshops to be held in the next 12 months.

Web: http://bys.asn.au