Developing a transformative mentoring programme: MINDtheGEPs joins forces with the Re-UNITA project


A good mentor can help young researchers decipher the inner workings of academia, and support career choices. Mentors can also help navigate the gender assumptions and logics behind hiring and promotion processes, how academic excellence is defined, and how the university and departments work. Together with the Re-UNITA project, MINDtheGEPs is launching a mentoring programme at the University of Turin. The programme is open to both men and women in early stages of their career and forms part of the university’s gender equality plan.

Cristina Solera, University of Turin
Cristina Solera, MINDtheGEPs coordinator

The UNITA Alliance is focusing on rural and mountain territories needs in relation to renewable energy, circular economy and cultural heritage. In September of 2021, the six universities that form part of the alliance launched the Re-UNITA project (Research for UNITA), funded by the Horizon2020 framework programme. The University of Turin is one of the partners, and as Coordinator of the MINDtheGEPs project, Professor Cristina Solera and her team at the Research Center for Women's and Gender Studies (CIRSDe) saw the potential for synergies with the gender equality work going on at the university. According to her, the mentoring programme will offer career support through the deconstruction of the gender assumptions and underlying logic that govern hiring and promotion processes, the definition of academic excellence, and the general functioning of universities and departments.

Combining one-to-one mentoring with peer mentoring and networking mentoring, and by stimulating reflexive paths in a safe, mutual and confidential space that also involves men. is what makes the mentoring programne ’transformative’. It doesn’t only support women’s careers, but also works to support oganisational and institutional change.

“In this setup, everyone will be able to share difficulties or doubts and develop strategies that place individual’s hardships within the national, university and disciplinary ‘gendered’ contexts of every participant, building networks and proposing new discourses and practices in the organisation”, says Cristina Solera.

The mentoring programme is open to both early-career male and female researchers. But the approach rests on female mentors to function as role models. This means recruiting women as mentors, from both STEM and SSH fields. Mentors should be either Full or Associate professors, who have distinguished themselves by academic merit and reflection on the gender implications of the way academia and science work.

According to Cristina Prandi, vice-rector of Research at the University of Turin and member both of MINDTHEGEPs and Re-UNITA projects, the mentoring programme developed within Re-UNITA has a transformative and gender focus. This will ensure that the programme will become a sustainable an integrated part of the University of Turin’s Gender Equality Plan, developed as part of the MINDtheGEPs project. The programme runs over one year, with mentees paired with a mentor to a disciplinary area related to their own. In addition, the programme includes collective moments, where exchanges across generations and disciplines will be enriching.

UNITA, MINDtheGEPs & University of Turin

By Josepine Fernow

News from MINDtheGEPs

Last modified: 2023-08-25