Wāhine Connect, a registered charity established by Dr Juliet Rumball-Smith in mid- 2017, aims to support women in medicine and health.

More than 80% of the NZ health workforce are women. Yet, research shows that women have greater difficulty than men in accessing mentors and professional support. This connection is critical, given the gender pay gap in medicine and health, discrimination, under-representation of women in leadership positions, and the higher rates of burnout and suicide of female doctors.

Wāhine Connect facilitates personal and career support through its peer network, mentoring programme, and webinar events.Following a successful six-month pilot in 2018, Wāhine Connect started taking on new mentees in February 2019.

Southern Cross Health Trust CEO Terry Moore says Wāhine Connect has proven to be highly successful by connecting female health professionals with knowledgeable mentors.

“A key purpose of the Health Trust is to invest in the training of New Zealand’s health workforce, so we are always looking for new ways to further support the more than 1,500 female health professionals we employ across our wholly-owned and joint venture facilities,” he says.

Wāhine Connect Trust Founder and Chair Dr Rumball-Smith says the funding from the Health Trust and other sponsors will provide administration support and further develop the programme, enabling it to reach more women.

“We have consistently received positive feedback from participants, with mentors and mentees rating the matching process as high quality and both parties finding it a valuable experience,” says the Dr Rumball-Smith.

“A recent webinar we hosted on clinical leadership had around 200 attendees. In the long-term, we hope to expand Wāhine Connect to other professions, such as law and engineering.”

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