The importance of mentoring

A mentor is as a trusted counselor or guide, whose support and advice has the power to greatly boost a woman scientist’s career. Some proved benefits for mentored women are gaining higher salaries and moving up the hierarchical ladder more effectively after a few the years. Furthermore, according to the NIH’s Office of Research on Women’s Health, female assistant professors with mentors are 25 percent more likely to receive grant funding than their female colleagues without mentors. To learn more about the importance of mentoring, DiscovHER interviewed women in science themselves!

A responsibility

I’ve been committed to mentorship my entire career. To me, the senior scientist has the responsibility of training the next generation, and I hope that my work will continue to impact society through my mentorship of young investigators.

Prof. Laurie H. Glimcher: Stephen and Suzanne Weiss Dean, Weill Cornell Medical College, New York, NY, USA; Provost for Medical Affairs, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, USA

An important part of career success

A challenge I faced when growing my scientific activity was to be a good mentor for my team members, and a good collaborator for my colleagues worldwide. Choosing internal or external collaborators, and evolving in the scientific community on the long-term, requires ethical and constructive attitudes. The ability to share a passion and ideas, or to exchange expertise and tools, is also an important part of success.

Prof. Brigitte Kieffer: Professor, University of Strasbourg, France; Research Director, Institut de Génétique et de Biologie Moléculaire et Cellulaire (IGBMC), Illkrich, France; Scientific Director, Douglas Institute Research Center, McGill University, Montréal, Canada 

Opening a path of possibilities

It takes a lot for women to pursue careers in science and with the right guidance and mentorship all is possible. It is important that those with knowledge or wisdom share their experience to help develop the abilities of those junior to them. I have always been encouraged by all most all my teachers since primary school, but when I came to the University I had an excellent mentor who has been instrumental to my career life. I joined her research group and the motivation and knowledge I got from her was just unbelievable.

Gladys Kahaka, PhD in Plant Science, Namibia 

Achieving great heights

I think mentorship is very important for women pursuing careers in Science. In many schools in Kenya, girls shy away from mathematics and sciences because of the general perception that science it very difficult and should be left for the men to struggle through. With good mentorship right from primary education through to tertiary level, girls excel in science. I think having a network of women in science in the country would be very helpful as we would encourage each other and mentor those behind us to achieve greater heights.

Peggoty Mutai, PhD in Chemistry, Kenya

A keystone of science 

It is really important to have the possibility to learn something from your mentor, and then apply the lessons by following your ideas, regardless of whether you are a man or a woman. Mentoring is a bilateral process involving teaching and learning, where everything is transferred and shared, and sometimes the two roles can be exchanged. This process has to be the keystone of science, where communication and networking are necessary for everybody to do research.

Marina Faiella, PhD in biochemistry and biotechnology, Italy 

Let us know who is your mentor, or if you are a mentor yourself at @4womeninscience!

All of the interviewees were rewarded by the L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science program

For Women in Science

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