Program Manager and a Fellow of the 2016 pilot program, Stephanie Amir said a highlight of last year's program was the opportunity for participants to deliver mock pre-selection speeches to a panel of experienced politicians in the Legislative Assembly at Victoria's Parliament House.
"As a local councillor, I know how daunting it was for the cohort to stand up in front of their peers and speak about what they believed in but it was an invaluable experience and proved what the participants were capable of," Cr Amir said.
"So often we see politics as involving a fight between parties, so to have women from all sides of politics sitting together and supporting one another, while being mentored by MPs from three different parties, is very powerful."
The program is an initiative of the Women's Leadership Institute Australia (WLIA), made possible by a donation to the University of Melbourne from the Trawalla Foundation established by the Schwartz family.
WLIA Founding Chair Carol Schwartz said last year's pilot program was a great success, with several women already embarking on political careers.
"The program has given a cohort of incredible women from across the political spectrum the skills, support and networks they need to run for office," Ms Schwartz said.
"It's critical to have men and women share power at the highest levels of leadership and decision-making – that's why we initiated the Pathways to Politics Program for Women."
Previous participants have already had political success, with three women from the 2016 cohort elected to local council. Alumnae Bridget Vallence, Juliana Addison and Katie Allen will all be running in the Victorian elections this November.
Based on Harvard University's From Harvard Square to Oval Office, the non-partisan program equips 25 women from diverse backgrounds with the skills, networks and confidence they need to seek elected office at a federal, state or local level.
Free for successful applicants, the Pathways to Politics Program for Women runs from July to October this year. Prospective participants can view the eligibility requirements and apply at: government.unimelb.edu.au.