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Equal opportunities via Mentoring for girls and women

posted Mar 12, 2012, 5:14 AM by Astrid Mats
We:Mentor Grundvig project

original article:  http://www.edem-net.gr/en/world/287--mentoring-.html 

'If you want to build a ship, don't drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.'*

This quote should be the 'moto' of any mentor. In terms of women, the right mentoring should enable women and girls to decide for their life without any prejudices and stereotypes holding them back.
EDEM participates in the program 'We: mentor': Gender equality through Mentoring' with partners from Austria, UK, Germany and Romania. This project aims to exchange experiences, methods and especially good practices during the implementation of mentoring programs for girls and women.

The term mentoring comes from ancient Greek history: In his old age, Mentor was a friend of Odysseus who placed Mentor in charge of his son Telemachus, when Odysseus left for the Trojan War. In Odysseia, Athena often took the disguise of Mentor to advise Telemachus. Nowadays, mentoring is a tool to promote equal opportunities in employment based on the voluntary participation of experienced women who act as 'mentors' discussing career issues with female students or young women at the beginning of their working life. Mentoring differentiates from the guidance or the career guidance and of course can be used to support various social groups and cases.

EDEM is founder member of the 'European Federation of Mentors for girls and women'-WOMENTOR whose aim is to establish and facilitate communication among organizations, mentors for girls and women and associations of the participating countries and to promote the exchange of opinions/concepts on different approaches and experiences about this issue and implement the structure to create a network of 'experts' dealing with the issue of promoting equal opportunities for girls and women in education and work. You can find more information in english on the federation website.

LLP_Logo_JPGThrough the program we: mentor, five of the most experienced associations, members of the above mentioned network, will provide an opportunity for their members, with relevant experience and expertise to meet, exchange views and experiences and discuss applied mentoring practices with positive results for girls and women. The result when the program will be completed, will be the sharing of knowledge, experience and pluralism among all partners.

For this purpose, the program includes four transnational meetings - in Germany (Munich), Romania(Constanza) - UK (Sheffield) and Greece (Athens). The first two meetings have taken place and the next two will take place in the first half of 2012. In these meetings, the association hosting/organizing the meeting makes a presentation of experience and methods used for mentoring programs implemented by itself, as well as other mentoring initiatives implemented in the country. The other participants / guests make comments and questions, discuss, even disagree or take partthemselves in what is presented by the hosting association. Thus, hosts and guests broaden their ideas from each meeting.

 

For a successful a transnational meeting, the representatives of any organization should be people working or involved in the association, so that they know the objectives and resources available - and have relevant experience in mentoring procedures. The goal of this program is to strengthen associations and to contribute to the broadening of their knowledge in order to help those who have less experience to implement successful mentoring programs for their members in the near future. For EDEM, this has to do with the adaptation of best practices for the empowerment of women engineers and of girls with interest in science and technology.

In this phase that two of the transnational meetings have taken place and two remain to take place, it is a good moment to present the findings from the first two meetings.

Workshop #1: Sharing Experience: ICT, web 2.0, Communities and Mentoring?
January 2011 18-20th, Kochel (near Munich). Organized by dib (deutscher ingenieurinnenbund e.V., German Association of Women Engineers).

During this meeting, the possibilities for virtual mentoring offered by new technologies, internet and particularly web2.0 applications were explored and relevant applications of the German association of women engineers (dib) were presented. The basic idea was that Internet applications are available costless for self-teaching through their respective websites. Using these tools, one can facilitate communication between mentors and mentees without leaving their office or home and without losing direct communication. The remote communication helps the exchange of concerns and doubts, whereas face to face communication could constitute a deterrent. Besides, the familiarization of women (such as architects etc) with new technologies and their applications creates opportunities for searching a job and advancing career, and of course keeps women in touch with developments at a rapidly evolving field where one can easily feel "digitally" illiterate.

You can find a schematic diagram showing the applications of web2.0 and useful Web 2.0 links to explore and run your own applications (calendars, surveys, petitions, polls, voice communication, virtual reality, etc.). At this meeting, EDEM participated with 5 members (2 women engineers with professional experience and 3 recently graduated engineers). For all participants, the meeting was constructive since, for those who were not familiar with the internet, they found out that internet is user- friendly and creates opportunities and for those who were familiar, they explored the large range of possibilities that internet can offer and enjoyed it.

Workshop #2: Sharing Experience Workshop: Volunteer Mentoring as an Efficient and Effective Adult Learning Strategy -  Lessons Learned and Best Practice from the Romanian Experience, June 1-4th 2011, Costanza. Organized by CENTRAS Constanza.

The possibilities of mentoring by vounteers, as a tool to support children and adults were explored during this meeting. In practices presented by CENTRAS Constanza, young volunteers learn how to boost confidence and self-awareness of young people, who do not have adequate support from the family-social environment. These practices (case studies, role play, psychological games, expression through art etc) help in selecting appropriate combinations of mentor-mentee, breaking the 'ice' at first contact and aim at helping the mentee to understand the reasons for his/her choices,  identifying any stereotypes and prejudices that affect them, revealing their true potential and wishes. Should the mentor become familiar with these practices, he/she will be more effective in discovering all aspects of the personality of his / her mentee and thus he/she will be able to suggest educational choice and professional way, based on appropriate criteria. During this meeting, the involvement of participants from various countries was continuous and showed the diversity of personalities of the participants and the reasons why face to face mentoring is far from simply proposing areas of employment, postgraduate studies etc. At this meeting, EDEM participated with 3 members from the Board of Directors who gained experience in implementing mentoring programs of EDEM primarily in the selection of combinations of mentor-mentee and in the organization of the first meetings where introversion is normal to exist.

You can find more about the program 'we: mentor', the transnational meetings which took place and the conclusions drawn on the project website. The next transnational meeting is scheduled for the first quarter of 2012 in the United Kingdom. It is organized by the partner who has the greatest experience in mentoring and will have as a subject the good practices and guidelines for designing and implementing a mentoring program for women scientists and entrepreneurs. EDEM will participate with 4 members, all professional engineers (with more than 10 years of experience) who also have experience in organizing seminars, workshops and managing European programs.

The last transnational meeting will take place in Athens in June 2012. During this meeting conclusions from previous meetings and final conclusions in terms of best practices for mentoring girls and women will be discussed. Findings from this last transnational meeting will be refined by EDEM in order to use them to organize  mentoring project for the case of women engineers and girls who are keen on science and technology.

*Reference: Wikipedia

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