Massey University professor named 2018 ‘Woman of the Year’ finalist


Carmel College student Mackenzie O'Neill and Bream Bay College student Kara-Jane Beckham, pictured with Professor Sarah Leberman at last year's Young Women's Leadership Programme.


Professor Sarah Leberman has been named one of 30 finalists in NEXT Magazine’s 2018 Woman of the Year Awards.

Professor Leberman is a finalist in the sport category and was nominated for her work advocating for women and gender equity in sport. She has been working in this area for over 20 years, with her research culminating in the co-authored book Women in Sport Leadership: Research and Practice, published in 2016.

Her current areas of interest include addressing women’s lack of representation in coaching, which remains a male-dominated profession despite high participation rates by women as athletes.

She says the problem is that there aren’t enough women in coaching roles for young women to aspire to. “If you are an athlete and you never see a woman as your coach, you don't think, 'My next step is coaching’,” she says.

A long career in research and leadership in sport

Professor Leberman makes of point of role modelling coaching herself – as a third Dan Black belt at her club Taekwondo Manawatu. She has also held several leadership positions in in sports organisations, including manager of the Women’s Junior Black Sticks and stand-in manager for the Black Sticks. She was a founding member of the New Zealand Women in Leadership Programme, designed to bring gender equity to the university sector in New Zealand and is currently the co-chair of Women in Sport Aotearoa, which she co-founded in 2017.

She is also a professor of leadership at the Massey Business School, where she developed the Young Women’s Leadership Programme, which aims to teach young women about leadership and build their confidence and networks.

About the awards

The Woman of the Year Awards were created to honour inspirational Kiwi women who use their passion, commitment and drive to make a significant contribution to their field. Five finalists are chosen for each of the six categories: arts and culture, sport, education, community, health and science, and business and innovation.

The category winners and NEXT Magazine’s Woman of the Year 2018 will be announced at a cocktail event in Auckland on the October 11. It is not the first time Professor Leberman has been recognised for her contribution to women in leadership. She was previously a finalist in the diversity category of the 2016 Westpac Women of Influence Awards.

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