Women in Physics Mentoring-Program

What is mentoring?

Mentoring can be defined as a professional relationship in which an experienced person (the mentor) assists a less experienced one (the mentee) in developing professional skills. Mentoring involves reciprocity; it does not overlap with the ordinary advisory structures (for instance, PhD supervisor or employee – supervisor relationship).

Between mentor and mentee there is no direct hierarchical relationship.


What is the goal of mentoring?

The goal of mentoring is the planning of the mentee's career in science, e. g. through an insight into the career and work experience of the mentor. The aim is to promote the mentee's professional career in an enriching way. In the Mentoring Program for Women in Physics, a focus lies on establishing a career in academia. For example:

  • How do I establish myself as an independent researcher?
  • Which are my next career options?
  • Which grants should I apply for?
  • How can I expand my network?
  • Advice on leadership in science


The role of the Mentor and the Mentee

The Mentor…The Mentee…
  • is an experienced person in her/his professional field
  • is willing to share experiences and knowledge for free
  • supports the mentee in achieving her/his goals
  • helps the mentee to understand the unwritten laws of the community
  • integrates the mentee into networks and can take the mentee to important meetings ("shadowing")
  • asks questions and gives advice to allow the mentee to freely find her own way
  • finds a good balance between supporting and challenging the mentee with respect to her career
  • is interested in the exchange with more experienced persons in her professional environment
  • is open to remarks and constructive criticism by the mentor
  • is responsible for maintaining the mentoring relationship
  • presents her long term personal and professional goals
  • timely plans the mentoring meetings, taking into account the mentor's availability
  • sets up an agenda for the agreed mentoring meetings
  • has a proactive attitude in the design of the mentoring relationship
  • has personal responsibility regarding her own career

Mentoring Agreement

For the women in physics mentoring program the mutual relationship is agreed upon by mentee and mentor in a mentoring agreement, which defines the goals that they want to achieve together.

Download mentoring agreement

It must be signed by both mentee and mentor at the start of the program (see also below for the timeline). The signed agreement must be sent to the organizers (contact is provided in the mentoring agreement).



The timeline for the mentoring program is shown below. The actual mentoring program runs for one year and is kicked-off by the Women-in-Physics Career Symposium at which mentee-mentor pairings are defined. The program is completed at Women-in-Physics Wrap-Up event that should be attended by all mentees and mentors. It is intended is a forum to exchange the experience collected during the mentoring program.