Exclusive: Women’s Sport Australia President Gen Simmons Discusses Shona Joy Scholarship
fter recently announcing the new Shona Joy Scholarship, Women’s Sport Australia (WSA) president, Gen Simmons, spoke with Ministry of Sport about the benefits of the scholarship and the WSA mentorship program.
Women’s Sport Australia have opened applications for the Shona Joy Scholarship, a program aimed at helping women advance their careers in the sports industry.
In partnership with Australian fashion label, Shona Joy, the scholarship will fully subsidise one applicant from each state and territory allowing them to participate in WSA’s mentorship program, as well as reducing the cost of the program for other participants.
WSA president, Gen Simmons told Ministry of Sport about the new partnership with Shona Joy.
“Over the last 12 months, Shona Joy, the Australian fashion wear label have supported Women’s Sport Australia by donating some of their funds received from one of the athleisure wear lines to put into the mentoring programme, so they’re helping make the programme more affordable for women working in sports,” Simmons told Ministry of Sport.
“We struck up the partnership sort of midway through last year and they created this SJ athleisure wear and $5 from each of the garment sales came back to Women’s Sport Australia so it was a really amazing thing to help us out and to make sure that we can then offer this programme at the rate of $250 as opposed to $400- $450 or what it used to be.
“The Shona Joy Scholarship is a full subsidy, so the participants simply just need to show up for the programme.
“They will have the full programme costs covered and they will be paired with a senior mentor for the programme and have all the benefits of WSA membership and all of the networking opportunities that we are able to run,” she said.
WSA’s mentoring program has run for many years and is aimed at helping women who are early in their careers.
“There’s lots of things that are available for senior executives to progress their career within sport, but really, for those people that are more sort of entry level; your officers and coordinators, there’s not as many development opportunities that are targeted specifically at that group,” Simmons said.
“The program involves a workshop where mentees can develop some skills that are going to help them to progress, and then following the workshop they get matched with a manager or senior manager within sport or within a different industry who can help mentor them.
“They end up doing a minimum of three one-on-one sessions with the mentor who is specifically matched to their skill set into the areas that they want to develop in,” she said.
Not only do participants receive the benefits of learning from their mentors but they also are given opportunities to network with other women in the industry.
“It’s the benefit of having a mentor who can help you progress your career having and then also having that network of other people going through the programme that work in sport that you can band together,” Simmons said.
“I think the program is successful because not only do you get the benefits of having a mentor, but you also get to go through the programme with other like-minded women working in sport at that similar level to you,” she said.
Though the partnership with Shona Joy is recent, the WSA’s mentoring program has run for many years with Simmons herself being a participant in 2017.
“I actually was first introduced to Women’s Sport Australia myself through the mentoring programme so it’s something that’s very close to my heart,” Simmons said.
“My boss recommended that it might be a good programme for me, so I went along and really enjoyed it and made some new friends in the industry who I’m still friendly with today.
“After the session, not only was I put in touch with a mentor, but one of the facilitators of the programme, who was the then president of the Women’s Sport Australia board, spoke to me and was like ‘we’ve actually got a vacancy on our board and during the workshop you showed a lot of energy and passion and you’ve got a background in digital communications which is what we need on our board so would you be interested in stepping onto the board?’
“So for me the mentoring programme also resulted in a board role of which now I’m the president so it was extremely beneficial in my career journey.
“You never know where it’s going to take you so it’s definitely something awesome to look into,” she said.
Applications for the Shona Joy Scholarship close on June 25.