Press Release – NZ Federation of Graduate Women
A campaign to get more women into the nation’s boardrooms has seen the Wellington branch of the New Zealand Federation of Graduate Women dedicate a special prize named after its first President, Dr. Agnes Bennett.
To commemorate the 90th Anniversary of the Wellington branch, its Charitable Trust has awarded a $10,000 prize called the 90th Anniversary Dr Agnes Bennett Award to Leigh Pearson to enable her to further studies in Board Governance.
The award will be presented in front of the old Wellington Hospital Façade at 10.00 on Wednesday the 28th of November. This is fitting in that the awards’ benefactor, Dr Agnes Bennett, one of the first women to graduate in medicine in Scotland, went on to work in General Practice in Wellington with subsequent appointments to St Helen’s and Wellington Hospital at the beginning of last century before retiring in 1936. Dr Bennett was the first President of the Wellington Branch of the New Zealand Federation of Graduate Women which was founded 90 years ago in 1922.
Dr Virginia Hope, the Chair of both the Capital and Coast and the Hutt Valley Health Boards and an elected Board Member since 2007, has fittingly agreed to present the award to Leigh Pearson. Dr Hope is herself a graduate in medicine and a practising Specialist in Public Health Medicine and Medical Administration.
Joy Dunsheath, the President of the Wellington Branch, can’t think of a better person to receive the award than Leigh Pearson, well known to New Zealanders as a leading political journalist between 1992 and 1999. Ms Pearson has been working in government relations and corporate communications for a number of influential organisations since moving out of the public eye and currently represents the University of Auckland among other organisations. She will use the award to study governance.
Dunsheath says, “The Federation of Graduate Women enthusiastically supports gender diversity in the boardroom. Statistics tell us only 11% of the 574 listed board positions on the NZX are held by women, while women make up less than 10% of the top NZX company directors.”
“This commemorative Award of $10,000 is to help Leigh Pearson change that situation and to inspire other women to achieve positions on company boards, which will lead to an increased presence as directors and improve the numbers of women at senior management level.”
Ms Pearson has been working in corporate communications for a number of influential organisations since moving out of the public eye and currently represents the University of Auckland among other organisations. She is planning to use the award to enable further studies.
Joy Dunsheath is “delighted Dr Hope, a practising woman doctor and the Current Board Chair, has agreed to present this award on the steps of the old Wellington Hospital where Dr Bennett worked in the first half of the twentieth century.’
“This continuity of women supporting women to achieve at a high level is very gratifying and embodies the work the Wellington Branch has done over the past 90 years and to which it is committed to carry on into the future. We look to women like Dr Hope and Leigh Pearson to continue to inspire others.”