When mentoring matters: a French mentoring program for women in science (Nature Biotech.)

The term gender scissor describes the distribution of men and women throughout their scientific career: while girls represent more than a half of the University students, the percentage of women in science markedly decreases beyond the PhD. This trend has been reported in different European Union member states including France. In this country, female scientists are underrepresented not only in academia but also in private companies, where they reach only 20% of all researchers. Different studies suggest that lack of support and scarcity of role models could be among the causes underlying this imbalance. Batut and colleagues report an innovative mentoring program aimed at supporting and guiding young female students during their PhD in French institutions. This program lasts 12 months and encompasses three main activities: First, one to one meeting between a mentor and a mentee (ideally face to face once a month). Second, discussion group meetings between mentoring circles about specific issues such as work/life balance and self-confidence. Third, testimonies of established female scientists and career development workshops. The mentoring program started in Montpellier six years ago with only 15 mentor-mentee pairs. Since then, it has increased in participants and expanded to other French universities, thanks to the work of “Femme & Sciences” (https://www.femmesetsciences.fr/), who also monitor its progresses through follow-up of meetings and final evaluation surveys. To date, the majority of early career female scientists who have participated in the program have a scientific position in academia or industry. In the long-term, the goal of the program is to increase the number of women in science and to cut the gender scissor. (Summary and wordcloud by Michela Osnato @michela_osnato) Nature Biotechnol. 10.1038/s41587-021-00951-2