Special issue


In University life, the first women to achieve status or leadership positions inevitably are perceived as role models to their colleagues, peers and students. Role model theory suggests that although we generally understand the meaning of terms such as “role model” or “mentor", the position of role model has several dimensions and is distinct from mentor. This case study on Professor H.Y. Izan, the first woman professor of finance in Australia and New Zealand, adopts the role model theoretical lens to examine Izan as trailblazer in the context of the eighteen women professors appointed after her during the period 1990-2021.

Practitioner Notes

  1. Women who are the first to achieve professorial status in a discipline are perceived as role models.
  2. According to role model theory, there is a distinction between the use of the term role model and mentors. Role models include people who are visible because of their diverse characteristics such as gender and they may be unaware of their role model status, or it may be fleeting or remote. Mentorship on the other hand is characterised by interaction and involvement by both parties.
  3. Research indicates that role models are crucial for research students' self-efficacy.
  4. This research examines the career of the first professor in finance in Australia and New Zealand, analysed through the lens of role model theory, to how show how she has influenced successive academics and students in the finance academy.

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