Boost for the mentorship of women who move into leadership positions in medical research



One of the first studies to evaluate a mentorship program for mid-career women in Australian academic research shows that it not only benefits participants, but can also foster a more inclusive workplace.

Dr Amy Vassallo, a researcher with the George Institute for Global Health’s Global Women’s Health Program and lead author, said structural barriers within the health sector and medical research are excluding women from positions of power. direction.

“We have now shown that formal structured mentoring programs can help change this dynamic, giving an immediate boost to women moving into leadership roles and shifting the culture into a culture where women can stand. flourish, â€she said.

While men and women are equally represented at the student and early career levels in the health and medical research workforce, mid-career participation of women declines sharply and significantly. permanent, with women underrepresented in management positions. While there are mentoring programs to address this problem, few are formally evaluated. This study was designed to fill a gap in evidence essential to inform decisions about whether to invest in such initiatives.

Researchers interviewed 50 mentors and mentees from Australia’s health and medical research sector one year after participating in the Franklin Women Mentoring program in 2018, and 14 others participated in follow-up interviews. The results demonstrated changes in knowledge, skills, behaviors and research parameters that were directly attributed to the program. Almost half of mentees reported a career advancement opportunity that they attributed to their participation in the program.

Dr Melina Georgousakis, founder of Franklin Women, said one of the strengths of the program was that it included mentors of all genders and who held leadership roles within their respective organizations, including institute directors. , deans and team leaders.

“As this program includes workshops led by expert leadership consultants, mentees and mentors leave equipped with the knowledge and tools to implement change in their own professional environment. This is essential to drive long-term cultural change at organizational and sector level, â€she said. “We found that about three-quarters of the mentors said the program had a positive impact on team management, influenced difficult conversations in the workplace and improved their communication style. “

Mentees also recognized the organizational benefits, with almost all saying the program influenced the knowledge and skills required to be more inclusive in the workplace. They overwhelmingly reported that the program has helped them prepare for career progression, including developing a career plan, building resilience and expanding their networks.

“Women in health and medical research are absent from leadership and decision-making positions, and the impact of the COVID pandemic has only made the situation worse,†added Dr Vassallo. “Structured and facilitated mentoring programs with established learning outcomes are smart for organizations because they not only help foster the best talent and skills among staff, but they help the organization improve its overall management game. “

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