Mentoring is a classic form of individual support for young academics and represents one of the most effective personal development instruments for organizations. An experienced person established in their discipline (mentor) supports a person inexperienced in the field (mentee) in their professional and personal development by passing on knowledge gained from their experience and smoothing the mentee’s way into professionally relevant circles.
Mentoring programmes for young female academics at higher education institutions are implemented as intensive, time-limited support measures. They serve to offset the gender-based qualification conditions in the academic sphere and to provide targeted support to young female academics in overcoming such hurdles.
In this context, it must be noted that participation in a mentoring process cannot replace formal, specialist academic support; rather, the focus on conveying interdisciplinary skills and informal knowledge should be seen as complementary to this.
In formal mentoring programmes, the mentoring relationship is supplemented by workshops in order to convey career-related key competencies as well as by a framework programme.
A mentoring relationship may involve:
- the exchange of knowledge and experience regarding structures, ‚rules of the game‘ and processes in the science system – including in terms of the mentee and mentor’s differing perspectives
- an exchange on gender-specific aspects of work and careers in the field of science
- individual feedback and advice in issues of career planning and developing a career strategy
- reflection on possible methods of reconciling a career in science with family life and/or a dual-career partnership
- active support for the mentee in planning and preparing specific career steps and career-related projects, such as publications, stays abroad, application procedures, etc.
- support in building and expanding a network within the scientific community at a national and international level
Forms of mentoring
Mentoring is offered in various different forms:
- One-to-one mentoring: a mentee is guided by a mentor
- Group mentoring: mentees who find themselves in comparable professional situations are guided as a group by one mentor
- Peer mentoring: mentees who find themselves in comparable professional situations are organized as a group and support each other in turn