Women in Ecology Mentoring Scheme

The British Ecology Society has run a mentoring scheme for Women in Ecology since 2009.  Mentors provide professional support to mentees with everything from a change of career, applying for grants, moving to a lectureship from post-doctoral research or balancing work with family life.

Who can apply?

Mentees must be women BES members, who have completed a Bachelor’s degree in ecology or related subject.

Mentors must be BES members with more than five years work experience in any sector of relevance to ecology.

You can be based anywhere in the world, as long as you are happy to participate by email, telephone or Skype. Mentoring pairs must keep in touch on a regular basis (via phone, Skype or in person). A minimum of 3 contact hours in total will be expected, per month.

How to apply & key dates

Applications will soon be accepted for the 2017/18 Women in Ecology Mentoring Scheme. Please contact Amy Padfield for more details.

For more information on what is expected from mentors and mentees, including training provision please read the Guide to the BES Women In Ecology Mentoring Scheme

Why mentoring for women? 

There is poor representation of women at senior levels of life science professions. Within academia, only 15% of biology professors in the UK are women.  This trend is also seen in ecology; a 2013 survey of BES members showed that women are over-represented at undergraduate and postgraduate levels but increasingly underrepresented at postdoc level and beyond. The BES recognises that encouraging women to remain in ecological careers, all the way to the top, is Society business.

We believe that better retention of women in ecology will lead to the creation of a more diverse, stimulating and talented research community, in an inclusive and positive working environment.

Can men be mentors?

Many senior women scientists cite the influence and support of male mentors in their career progression. We are also aware that the under-representation of women in senior positions means that these women are under considerable strain to provide pastoral responsibilities. We have therefore expanded the Women in Ecology Mentoring Scheme to include male mentors.

We understand that some mentees will prefer to be mentored by other women. You can make this preference clear on your application form.

The benefits of mentoring

Mentoring provides a safe, confidential environment for individuals to explore work, career and sometimes personal issues. Women who are mentored report increased confidence, self-esteem and motivation.

Mentoring also benefits the mentors. They can develop capabilities in developing others outside of their own department or team and also have the satisfaction of seeing another person develop and grow.

I've posted this in our 'Have you seen this' group because it's not precisely conservation tech, but it may well be an interesting opportunity that some of you may be keen to take up.

But as I write this, I'm starting to think it may also serve as a nice way to open up a discussion about diversity in conservation tech, and ask for some feedback about some future projects we've been considering. 

At the upcoming SCB ICCB conference in July @Alasdair  , @efegraus  and I will be hosting a knowledge cafe we've called 'Thinking outside the Network: Broadening participation in conservation technology design, development and application' (abstract attached below), with the aim of discussing the issue of diversity in conservation tech and finding new ideas for how WILDLABS can empower a greater diversity in participation in the development of new applications of technology for conservation.  

Firstly, if you're going to be at ICCB 2017 please do come along and share your experiences and ideas. If you can't make the knowledge cafe, I'll be around and keen to chat all things conservation tech + community, so flag me down! 

But more importantly, I'd really like to hear your feedback here and now. Would you be keen to be involved in a mentoring program along the lines of the BES scheme where mentors and mentees from within the WILDLABS community volunteer and are paired together? If not, are there other initiatives (e.g. small grant program to support prototype development and testing, webinar series, member led local meetups etc) that you would support?

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