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Prof Sarah Leberman staff profile picture

Contact details +64 (06) 356 9099  ext. 84935

Prof Sarah Leberman Cert ACE, PhD, BA

Professor of Leadership

Doctoral Mentor Supervisor
School of Management

I am a Professor of Leadership, with a particular focus on women in sport and in academia. Prior to this, I was the Dean Academic for Massey University. I provided strategic and operational advice to the Provost and leadership to the academic, learning, and teaching and student experience portfolios of Massey University. I was the Deputy Pro Vice-Chancellor for the Massey Business School, with particular responsibility for teaching and learning, internationalisation and accreditation until the end of 2016. Prior to this I completed a three year term as the Head of School of Management, prior to which I was the Associate Head of School of Management (Manawatu and Wellington), for two and a half years. I started at Massey University as a Recreation Officer and moved on to be Manager of the Recreation Centre, during which time the sport management and coaching qualifications at Massey were developed. Between 1995-1997, I worked at Victoria University in Wellington, before returning to Massey as an academic in the Department of Management.

I have served or am currently serving on numerous committees within the university including Academic Board (including being Deputy Chair), the College Boards of Business and Education, and I have been the Chair of the Massey University Doctoral Research Committee, the Massey University Blues Committee, and the Massey University Disability Committee. Representing the New Zealand Centre for Women and Leadership, I have been a steering group member of New Zealand Woman in Leadership programme since its inception in 2006, and was the Chair between 2012-2015. As a Senior Fulbright Scholar I conducted research at the Tucker Centre for Research on Girls & Women in Sport at the University of Minnesota. In 2016, I was a finalist in the Diversity category of the Westpac New Zealand Women of Influence Awards. I was a member of the New Zealand Olympic Committee Women in Sport Group and have been the Manager of the Women's Junior Black Sticks and Black Sticks teams. I have been a board member of Volleyball New Zealand and Western Netball and Hockey Manawatu.

I co-founded Women in Sport Aotearoa in 2017 and as an advocate for facilitating opportunities for girls and women in sport at all levels, Sarah was recognised as NEXT magazine’s Women of the Year (Sport) in 2018 and was a finalist in the 2016 Westpac ’Women of Influence’ awards (Diversity).

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Contact details

  • Ph: +64 6 9517935
    Location: 3.15, Business Studies Central
    Campus: Manawatu


  • Graduate Certificate in Athelte Career and Education Management (2002)
  • Doctor of Philosophy - Victoria University (1999)
  • Bachelor of Arts - University of Cambridge (1987)

Certifications and Registrations

  • Licence, Mentor Supervisor, Massey University

Research Expertise

Research Interests

My current research interests are in the areas of women and leadership in sport and academia, as well as the transfer of learning, and in particular the processes and factors which facilitate this. My most recent research publications have focused on mothers in sport leadership roles, and as elite athletes. I was a Fulbright Senior Scholar in 2008, which I tenured at the Tucker Centre for Research on Girls and Women in Sport, at the University of Minnesota. My research is always applied in that I try to make a difference in the areas of sport and academia as a result of my research findings. I am an Editorial Board member for Journal of Sport Management, and regularly review for the Sport Management Review and the European Sport Management Quarterly.

My research draws on the extant literature within leadership and gender, and on early research on the transfer of learning. The main research question focuses on the reasons why women continue to be underrepresented in leadership positions and identifying ways in which this gap can be redressed. An in-depth understanding of their experiences, assists in identifying processes for organisational change. The research has given voice to those underrepresented in the sport management literature - mothers and female inmates. The findings to date suggest that the area of transfer of learning from motherhood to sport and vice versa has been under researched. By addressing this gap, organisations can highlight the mutual benefits in terms of matching skill sets, confront issues around confidence and knowledge and work-life balance, contributing to the growing body of research based on work-family enrichment.


21st Century Citizenship, Health and Well-being

Area of Expertise

Field of research codes
Business and Management (150300): Commerce, Management, Tourism And Services (150000)


My area of expertise is leadership development. My research to date has focussed on women in sport and academia using qualitative methodologies. 

Research Projects

Summary of Research Projects

Position Current Completed
Project Leader 2 5

Research Outputs

Consultancy and Languages


  • French
    Last used: last week
    Spoken ability: Average
    Written ability: Average
  • German
    Last used: last week
    Spoken ability: Excellent
    Written ability: Excellent

Teaching and Supervision

Teaching Statement

My focus in teaching is providing high quality high impact learning experiences, which enable students to challenge themselves, so they can grow and develop, in a supportive environment. Drawing on my PhD research which focussed on how to maximise the transfer of learning, I am always looking for ways to maximise the transfer of learning from the myriad of situations our students find themselves in. I have taught papers in sport management and management from 100 level through to postgraduate over the past 29 years. I am  currently responsible for teaching postgraduate sport sociology and sport management, plus the 15 credit internship in business.

Courses Coordinated

Graduate Supervision Statement

I feel very privileged to be able to work with PhD students and guide them through the doctoral journey. Each student is unique and so my style is to adjust to the student's needs. My belief is that each student needs to know why they want to do a PhD and be passionate about their topic – they need to drive it. There is no one size fits all. I ensure that the supervision team is just that a team - where we work collectively to bring our strengths to the topic at hand. All the students I have worked with have brought their own topic about which they are passionate. Many focus on women in leadership in some form or other and many have been related to sport. However I have also relished the opportunity to work with colleagues from other disciplines (creative arts, history, natural resource management, matauranga Māori) where the topic has benefited from a multidisciplinary approach. Outside of Massey I have been part of supervision teams at the University of Washington and the University of Minnesota. I have supervised both traditional PhD and those by publications.

Prof Sarah Leberman is not currently available for Masters or Doctoral supervision.

Current Doctoral Supervision

Supervisor of:

  • Christy Hopkins - Doctor of Philosophy
    Leadership Re-Defined: Case Studies of Entrepreneurial Women
  • Rhema Chatiya Nantham - Doctor of Philosophy
    Learning from the experiences of women adult third culture kids: Prototyping their insights for leadership development in a globalising context
  • Alida Shanks - Doctor of Philosophy
    How did we get here? Power dynamics and gender equity in New Zealand sport organisations.

Completed Doctoral Supervision

Supervisor of:

  • 2019 - Vasudha Rao - Doctor of Philosophy
    Rethinking sponsoring: Evidencing and conceptualising sponsorship as a relational practice for women’s career development
  • 2019 - Ellen Nelson - Doctor of Philosophy
    The Social Well-being of Women Officers who have Left the NZ Army
  • 2017 - Jane Hurst - Doctor of Philosophy
    It's all about relationships: Women managing women and the impact on their careers
  • 2016 - Mark Bradford - Doctor of Philosophy
    BeWeDo®: Co-creating possibilities with movement
  • 2015 - Bevan Erueti - Doctor of Philosophy
    NGA KAIPARA MAORI: NGA PUMAHARA O TE TUAKIRI MAORI ME TE AO HAKINAKINA Maori Athletes: Perceptions of Maori Identity and Elite Sport Participation
  • 2015 - Alec Astle - Doctor of Philosophy
    Sport Development - Plan, Programme and Practice: A case study of the planned intervention by New Zealand Cricket into cricket in New Zealand
  • 2013 - Ryan Holland - Doctor of Philosophy
    Governance of New Zealand National Sport Organisations: Pasifika and Maori Voices
  • 2011 - Warren Smith - Doctor of Philosophy
    Athlete satisfaction over time: Adapting the athlete satisfaction questionnaire (ASQ) to a New Zealand setting
  • 2011 - Arnold Young - Doctor of Business and Administration
    Insight: Leadership training, an organistaional context, and transfer of learning - a case study
  • 2009 - Anne Probert - Doctor of Philosophy
    Competitive Bodybuilders and identity: Insights from New Zealand

Co-supervisor of:

  • 2015 - Lesley Gill - Doctor of Philosophy
    Exploring trainer perspectives of emotional intelligence training program design
  • 2009 - David Harris - Doctor of Business and Administration
    A discourse analysis of the nature of institutions in New Zealand rugby 1985 and 2005
  • 2009 - Abigail Allan - Doctor of Philosophy
    Decision-Making in Conservation: A model to Improve the Allocation of Resources amongst National Parks
  • 2001 - Andrew Martin - Doctor of Philosophy
    Outward Bound, New Zealand: Process and Outcomes.

Media and Links


  • 30 Oct 2018 - Newspaper
    'Sport for the many, not the few'
    Article by George Heagney on the launch of Sport Development in Action, Manawatu Standard, 30 October 2018, p. 3. Online version of story published 29 October 2018 https://www.stuff.co.nz/ma
  • 30 Jul 2019 - Online, Newspaper
    Male dominated sports organisations getting despar
  • 30 Jul 2014 - Newspaper, Online
    The Power of 1
    Quoted in article in The Press and Marlborough Express (30-Jul), Manawatu Standard and Taranaki Daily News (2-Aug), Timaru Herald and Waikato Times (9-Aug) discussing whether single sex schooling is b
  • 29 May 2008 - Radio
    Gender Equity in Olympic Sport
    Interviewed by Teddy Katz from CBC National Radio at NASSM conference in Toronto on my presentation Gender Equity in Olympic Sport see ROs. From: Canadian National Radio
  • 29 Jun 2017 - Online
    Women sport and leadership
    Interviewed as part of blog for Global Women.
  • 28 Feb 2019 - Radio, Online
    How to prevent sexual violence through and in spor
    Pos cast for Radio New Zealand Fair Play Show
  • 28 Aug 2017 - Radio
    How to boost women's sport
    Radio interview with Mike Hoskin on Newstalk ZB morning radio on how we can improve the situation for womens sport.
  • 27 Apr 2014 - Radio
    The Week in Sport
    Panel discussion with Zoe Ferguson and Wallace Chapman for 'Sunday Morning' programme, RadioNZ.
  • 26 Jul 2015 - Radio
    Smashing the Glass Ceiling - RNZ's Sunday Morning
    Professor Sarah Leberman was interviewed on Radio NZ’s Sunday Morning programme about the Young Women’s Leadership Programme and her research into the reasons for the low number of women in leadership
  • 22 Mar 2017 - Radio
    Valued, visible and influential
    Radio interview with Kathryn Ryan on what is required to shift the needle for women in sport in New Zealand.
  • 21 Sep 2014 - Online
    Women in Leadership
    Invited presenter for Massey Business School's 'Big Issues in Business' series
  • 20 Nov 2019 - Other
    Understanding privilege
    Podcast as part of Uncomfortable is OK
  • 20 May 2019 - Newspaper, Online
    Why we are challenging the system for equality in
  • 20 Dec 2014 - Magazine
    Crash Hot: Are confidence and self-belief really..
    Quoted in article in The Listener (p.18) on whether confidence and self-belief are the keys to success.
  • 18 Jan 2015 - Radio
    Growing Grass Root Talent
    Panel discussion on developing young people in sport through to elite level Panel discussion on developing young people in sport through to elite level on 'The Week in Sport' RadioNZ January 2015
  • 18 Feb 2008 - Television
    Women in Sport feature.
    Interviewed as part of feature on women in sport. This was based on my research conducted during my Fulbright Scholarship and linked to NROs 1, 2 and 3. From: TV3 - Campbell Live
  • 17 Nov 2013 - Radio
    The Place of Women in Sport in NZ Society
    Interviewed by Zoe Ferguson for 'Sunday Morning' programme with Chris Laidlaw, RadioNZ.
  • 16 May 2013 - Radio
    Parenting with Sarah Leberman and Billy Harris
    Interviewed by Kathryn Ryan on how to be a good sideline supporter for the 'Nine to Noon' programme, RadioNZ.
  • 15 Aug 2019 - Online
    Stop saying no one watches womens sport
  • 13 Jul 2013 - Newspaper
    I am Woman, Hear me Roar
    Quoted in article in Taranaki Daily News (and stuff.co.nz) discussing what difference it would make if there were more women in government and on company boards.
  • 13 Aug 2015 - Newspaper
    Young women helping the community
    Interviewed by North Harbour News, Auckland, re the 8 week Young Women's Leadership Programme for Year 12 girls that was held on Albany Campus
  • 13 Apr 2017 - Online, Newspaper
    Women still on the outside of NZ sport
    Interview based on data collected about women in leadership positions - both board and as CEOs - within New Zealand sport.
  • 12 Sep 2009 - Radio
    Mothers as elite athletes
    Interviewed by Daniel Conifer, as a result of the article published in Sport Management Review - see NRO 3. From: SBS Radio, Sydney, Australia
  • 11 Mar 2008 - Radio
    Encouraging Women as Sports Coaches
    Interviewed by Heather Jarvis as part of the "In the Loop" programme. This was based on my research conducted during my Fulbright Scholarship and linked to NRO 2. From: Australian Broadcasting Corpora
  • 10 Sep 2014 - Television
    Professor speaks on issue affecting all women
    Interviewed on issue of pay inequality for television programme 'Good Day Utah', Fox13, Salt Lake City, Utah, USA.
  • 10 Sep 2008 - Newspaper
    How Media Showed us Games
    Quoted in news brief in Domion Post on my research into how media depict Olympic athletes, p.3
  • 10 Oct 2014 - Radio
    Quiet achievers-getting more women into leadership
    Interviewed on quiet achievers and getting more women into leadership for radio programme 'Nine to Noon', RadioNZ National.
  • 10 Mar 2007 - Magazine
    View from the top
    Quoted in article in New Zealand Listener: Leading New Zealand women share their strategies for success, p.22
  • 10 Jul 2013 - Newspaper, Online
    Sports Bodies Still Largely Boys' Own Territory
    Quoted in article in Dominion Post (p. 6) discussing the low number of women in sports management in New Zealand. Article also online at stuff - businessday.co.nz
  • 10 Aug 2012 - Television
    Turning medals into money
    Interview on TV 1 'Close up' with Alison Mau
  • 10 Aug 2012 - Television
    Turning Medals into Money
    Interviewed by Alison Mau on TV 1 'Close up'
  • 08 Mar 2017 - Online, Newspaper
    Under valued, under funded, under the radar
    Reuters article picked up by India Times, New York Times Yahoo!, New Straits Times, SBS news and EuroNews. 'Under valued, under funded, under the radar - women's sport seek change in New Zealand.
  • 08 Mar 2008 - Radio
    Mothers as coaches
    Interviewed by Gary Lord. This was based on my research conducted during my Fulbright Scholarship and linked to NRO 2. From: NewsTalk ZB
  • 08 Jul 2013 - Newspaper
    Sideline Behaviour Could Turn Kids Off
    Quoted in article in Manawatu Standard (p. 3) discussing why women are under-represented in the coaching ranks.
  • 08 Aug 2016 - Radio
    Low number of New Zealand women coaches Rio 2016
    Interviewed on NewstalkZB and The Hits on the low number of New Zealand women coaches at the Rio 2016 Olympics.
  • 07 Sep 2017 - Television
    It's time we all stopped ignoring sexism
    TV interview for Seven Sharp TV1 on what can be done about sexism in women's sport.
  • 07 May 2009 - Newspaper
    White blokes hog media limelight
    Newspaper interview discussing research on how children's perceptions of sport are influenced by the media
  • 06 Mar 2008 - Newspaper
    Lack of Confidence Stops Women Coaching - Study
    Interview for article that appeared in NZ Herald, 6-3-2008, and Manawatu Standard, 2-4-2008, p.24
  • 06 Mar 2008 - Radio
    Mothers as Coaches
    Interviewed by Bill Ralston. This was based on my research conducted during my Fulbright Scholarship and linked to NRO 2. From: Radio Live Auckland
  • 06 Aug 2008 - Newspaper
    Games Not about Looks
    Interview for Manawatu Standard on representation of sportswomen in the media, p.1
  • 04 Mar 2020 - Radio, Online
    Sport system failing top women coaches
  • 03 Jul 2013 - Newspaper
    New Zealand Lagging over Women Leaders
    Quoted in article in New Zealand Herald (p. B16) highlighting the success of the Achieving Career Excellence (ACE) programme.
  • 02 Jan 2016 - Radio
    Sport: New Zealand Sport Women
    Part of panel discussion on Radio New Zealand with Lynn Freeman about women in sport in New Zealand.
  • 01 Sep 2007 - Magazine
    Cover Story: Home Team Advantage
    Interview for NZ Management for article 'What can business learn from sport?', vol 54(8), pp. 26-31
  • 01 Nov 2018 - Magazine
    NEXT Women of the Year Sport Award
    Awarded NEXT Women of the Year for my 20 years of advocacy and research for women in sport.
  • -

    Interviewed for the Australian Women's Weekly New Zealand edition based on my research - see NROs 1, 2 and 3 - for an article focusing on New Zealand's female sporting stars to coincide with the Commo

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