Monday 21 September saw the start of the second round of Wageningen UR’s mentoring programme for talented women. The participating scientists and mentors will start the coaching at the beginning of November.
Photo: Kristina Raab and Tijs Breukink give the startsignal in Forum.
The mentoring programme pairs up mid-career researchers with an experienced colleague who acts as a coach. The pairs meet at least four times every six months to discuss topics of their own choosing. It is important that the mentor and ‘mentee’ do not work in the same department so they can talk uninhibitedly. In the next round there will also be workshops and networking events.
The mentor programme was piloted last year with 22 pairs taking part. The response was very positive, says Kristina Raab, project manager at Human Resources. In the pilot programme a majority of the mentors were women. That is something Raab is trying to change this year. By stressing publicly that a good gender balance is the responsibility of the whole organization, as well as by approaching potential male mentors directly.
Board member Tijs Breukink, who launched the programme together with Raab in the Forum, said he saw some hopeful signs. Like the fact that half of all Wageningen students are now women, while the staff is increasingly balanced too, in gender terms. Nevertheless it is still the case that the higher up the ladder you go, the bigger the proportion of men you find: only ten percent of chair-holding professors are women. But even here, Breukink saw reasons for optimism. Of the personal professors on tenure track, 33 percent are women.
In 2013 Wageningen UR launched a gender action plan with the aim of bringing more balance into the male/female ratio in the upper echelons of the research institutes (DLO) and Wageningen University. Along with the mentoring programme 12 diversity workshops were run and an instruction went out that women should be adequately represented on appointments committees.