unizeit Schriftzug

Mentoring for female scientists: now also with an international orientation

Support for an academic career at the CAU is offered by the new via:mento_international mentoring programme, aimed especially at female postdoc scientists from abroad.

Talking people at the table
© Jolan Kieschke (Archivbild)

One component of the mentoring programme via:mento_international are the network meetings with project manager Marta Chiarinotti (centre). In line with Corona measures, these currently take place online.

Foreign language, foreign culture, and perhaps few contacts at the start: women who want to have a successful career abroad must contend with special challenges and opportunities. via:mento_international offers them good support with the new situation. The mentoring programme for female postdoc scientists started at the CAU in December 2020. It enables non-German-speaking female academics to also plan and achieve their professional goals in a more targeted manner.

via:mento_international is the new English-language programme line of the successful mentoring programme via:mento. "The German-language via:mento programme was launched ten years ago at the CAU, to advise and support female postdoc academics with their career planning through individual mentoring," said Dr Marta Chiarinotti, project leader of via:mento_international. Both programmes are directed at women who continue their scientific career after successfully completing their doctorate, and strive to follow a scientific career path. The stated aim is to increase the proportion of completed habilitations (postdoctoral lecture qualifications) at Kiel University, and thereby ensure gender equality in the academic system. In the initial phase, the via:mento_international programme will receive funding through the Programme for Women Professors of the federal government and states.

Because women are still under-represented in science. Although more female school pupils complete their Abitur (A-level equivalent) than male pupils, equal numbers of women and men start studying and pursue doctoral degrees. "But after completion of their doctoral degrees, an above average number of women leaves science." This is also the case at the CAU. At Kiel University, only 24 percent of all professorships are currently held by women (as at: December 2020).

Whereas the via:mento programme is aimed at German-speaking female scientists at Kiel University, via:mento_international specifically targets women who have either just arrived in Kiel from abroad, or are planning a longer stay abroad. "The new programme line is internationally orientated. A key focus is on both intercultural skills as well as third-party funding acquisition. Workshops, networking activities and mentoring take place in English," explained Chiarinotti.

The two-year programme started with a digital kick-off event to get to know each other, and an introduction with a special focus on the nature of the mentoring relationship. One of the twelve participating female scientists, who all come from different nations, is Dr Siren Rühs from the GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel. "I am delighted to have the opportunity to participate in via:mento_international as a mentee," emphasised Rühs. "The programme offers me a unique network and specific support. In addition, the new international programme line creates the opportunity to better understand and make use of international cooperation and employment opportunities. This is very helpful for me in my present situation, since I studied and completed my doctorate in Germany, but now in the postdoc phase I would like to gain experience abroad."

The key focus of via:mento_international - just like that of via:mento - is on individual mentoring. Renowned international experts from all areas of the university, science and research are involved as mentors, who advise and support the female postdoc scientists (mentees) individually in tandem with the planning and execution of their career steps. Parallel to the mentoring, the mentees get a wide variety of career-related information from CAU specialists as well as external experts, for example about the German academic system, third-party funding opportunities and much more. Mutual support by the mentees is ensured by peer mentoring in small collegial groups. The mentees receive training in interdisciplinary skills such as appointment procedures or leadership. "Together, a large network of women is being created who can ideally also support each other even beyond the end of their participation in the programme," said Chiarinotti.

Author: Jennifer Ruske