Equal opportunities, development of potential and networking of young scientists – this is what the Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf is working towards with its SelmaMeyerMentoring.
For 15 years, the program has been supporting young scientists in recognizing key personal qualifications, developing them further and building a professional network. Over 500 mentees have taken part. The mentoring is structured in three stages: for female Phd students, female scientists post Phd or with a professorship. Over time, program content and formats have changed, as have administrative processes. In 2019, the decision was made to switch from a mix of forms, office applications and event tools to a CHEMISTREE platform. Everything that has become possible with it proved even greater value during the pandemic:
- Mentees apply online (instead of using a form), the details, including a letter of motivation and a CV, are available digitally and can be downloaded from the platform and processed further if required.
- The process is data protection compliant, CHEMISTREE guarantees the highest security requirements for the storage and processing of participant data.
- The match takes place at a clearly defined point in time. The process of forming a tandem is significantly shorter than before and can be scheduled precisely as a phase in the mentoring program.
- The optimal constellation of the tandems is determined by the CHEMISTREE matching process. Clearly visible to the organizers on the matching platform: the accuracy of each tandem and its status. Alternatively, you can match by hand. For example, when mentees nominate a specific mentor of their choice – and are then manually linked to the desired tandem.
- Approving (or rejecting) a matching proposal happens on the platform and is obvious to organizers. Depending on the status, automated communication modules can take effect or the participants can be informed individually.
- Process-accompanying content and documents on the mentoring process can be made available on the platform and participants can be automatically notified at specific times.
Important program pillars: Networking and events
The declared goal of SelmaMeyerMentoring is the networking of female scientists across disciplines, hierarchies and places of work. Mentees, alumni and mentors can find their own network groups on the platform, while all participants have access to the SelmaMeyerMentoring Community. In each case, the visible profile provides concrete points of contact for networking with each other. The organisers decide which profile information is displayed and whether it is supplemented with information from questionnaires as part of the design process.
Ekaterina Masetkina, program manager for the SelmaMeyerMentoring, underlines the importance of the networking function:
The platform is essential to expand and keep our network and community alive. The alumni remain connected to the SelmaMeyer mentoring program via the online platform and are all the more motivated to take on the role of a mentor themselves. The software enables the uncomplicated, proactive establishment of new connections within the SelmaMeyerMentoring Community. We are opening up an incomparable network for academics, of which I am particularly proud.
The numerous events aimed at different target groups – workshops, lectures, network meetings – play a decisive role. They are promoted and managed via the platform’s event function: participants are invited, can register and deregister and receive event-specific information. On the damin side, there is a definable upper limit for registrations coupled with a waiting list function, exportable participant data and event-specific participant segments.
Scientists who have taken part in SelmaMeyerMentoring speak enthusiastically about its importance for their personal and professional development. The online platform and the matching contribute significantly to this:
The SelmaMeyerMentoring has helped me in many ways. The diverse workshops and offers revealed possible career paths in science and business to me and helped me in my personal decision. I particularly benefited from my mentor – her guiding words and her experience, especially as a working mother. During regular phonce call, we talked about professional and personal challenges. Both personally and professionally, our tandem work in tandem was perfect for my needs and was extremely valuable for me.
The SelmaMeyerMentoring addresses today’s needs with its online portal. No lengthy and complicated processes, just a few clicks to your goal: create a representative profile that you can use to find your network. The newsfeed informs quickly and clearly about workshops and events – and you can register with just 2 clicks. In the packed day-to-day work in the lab, I manage to stay on the ball with SelmaMeyerMentoring despite the lack of time and attention.