The WISER mentoring program allows each postdoc to choose her own mentor. Mentors receive relevant information about the mentee, such as career goals, challenges, and areas she seeks to improve with the assistance of the mentor. The matched mentor-mentee couple decide on a suitable timeframe for e-meetings (e.g. a one-hour meeting once a month). Once every few months, the WISER team surveys the mentors and mentees about the process, to see if common themes and needs are emerging from multiple mentor-mentee pairs.
Our goal is to increase the number of Israeli women successfully completing their postdoctoral training and moving on to impactful positions in academia and industry. According to Council for Higher Education reports, while women constitute 60% of students, they hold less than 30% of faculty positions across all fields of Israeli academia. Aiming to increase women’s representation in research and academic positions, we believe that this joint effort by postdocs and PIs to provide experienced mentorship could contribute greatly at this crucial stage. We believe that a change can start from us.
What is mentoring
Mentorship is a professional activity, a trusted relationship, a meaningful commitment. It is a means to empowerment, learning and obtaining personal goals. In the relationship between the mentor and the mentee, the mentor shares experiences, personal values and knowledge, as well as available resources. Through the mentoring process the mentee develops, both personally and professionally.
The qualities and requirements needed in a mentor are interpersonal skills including active and reflective listening, non-judgmental feedback, support and providing motivation.
Mentees that learn new skills, create new relationships and develop new abilities for their careers, view the relationship with the mentor as successful.
According to the reports from the Council for Higher Education, while women are about 50% of Ph.D. level students, we are only less than 30% of faculty position members across all research fields. For some fields the numbers are closer to 10%. Israeli academia approaches this problem in many ways, but we believe that supporting young researchers at this critical period for their academic career – their postdoctoral fellowship – can make a huge difference. Support from an experienced Israeli mentor sharing the same culture, mentality, and language can help female postdocs overcome challenges on professional and personal levels, and gain tools that are relevant to the advancement of their career. For those who perform their postdoc outside Israel, having an Israeli mentor allows them to keep in touch and further eases the transition into impactful positions within the Israeli academia, and in some cases industry.