On our tenth day of #FoRmentors, some reading:”Transforming mentorship in STEM by training scientists to be better leaders”

On our tenth day of #FoRmentors, some reading:”Transforming mentorship in STEM by training scientists to be better leaders”

This is part of a series of blog posts explaining our push for centering mentoring in academia. We are organizing a meeting in Chicago in June 2019 to take action – you can learn more about the effort here. Donate to our mentoring effort!   Today we wanted to share some reading, “Transforming mentorship in STEM by training scientists to be better leaders” – and the blogpost by the authors explaining the paper in Small Pond Science – for those who have not yet seen it.   The authors provide survey data pointing to both the need and desire for better mentoring, and suggests best practices, including resources and a model implemented at the University of Colorado Boulder.   Donate to our mentoring effort!...
On our eighth day of #FoRmentors, mentorship in diversifying the professoriate

On our eighth day of #FoRmentors, mentorship in diversifying the professoriate

This is part of a series of blog posts explaining our push for centering mentoring in academia. We are organizing a meeting in Chicago in June 2019 to take action – you can learn more about the effort here. Donate to our mentoring effort!   This is a guest post by a member of the FoR Board of Directors, Dr. Jack Nicoludis.   Despite diversity initiatives throughout the biomedical research enterprise, from institutions to funding agencies, there is still a lack of diversity in academia, with the least amount of diversity in the highest positions. While enrollment in PhD programs by underrepresented minority (URM) students has increased significantly (from 2.5 to 9% of the total population of graduate students in basic sciences from 1980 to 2014), URM assistant faculty have grown only moderately (3.9% to 5.8%) (Gibbs et al., 2014). In fact, Gibbs et al. (2014) found, using a model of the pathway from graduate student to faculty, that the percentage of URM graduate students is statistically uncoupled from the URM hiring rate. Here I will discuss how improving mentoring may be a way to increase diversity in academia.   Within the corporate world, there is also a problem retaining and promoting URM workers (Dobbin and Kalev, 2016). Many measures to combat workplace discrimination, such as mandatory diversity trainings, fail to increase diversity and in some cases even show regression in diversity. Even more poignantly, when grievance systems fail to seriously investigate claims, workers stop speaking up and companies become oblivious to discrimination problems. In this example we can see a clear parallel to a major discrimination issue in...
On the seventh day of mentoring, #FoRmentors gave to me…7 statements of mentoring philosophy

On the seventh day of mentoring, #FoRmentors gave to me…7 statements of mentoring philosophy

This is part of a series of blog posts explaining our push for centering mentoring in academia. We are organizing a meeting in Chicago in June 2019 to take action – you can learn more about the effort here. Donate to our mentoring effort! Academics are commonly required to write Research Statement/Statements of Research Interests, for example for applications for faculty positions and other applications, summarizing research accomplishments, recent and current work, and future directions and potential of the work. Likewise those with teaching responsibilities are required to have Teaching Statements or Philosophies. Increasingly, there are calls for similar statements for mentoring practices to be produced by mentors, and to be included in processes such as tenure packages or NIH grant applications. In “Statements of Mentorship” in eNeuro, Daniel Colón-Ramos writes discussing (and sharing) mentoring statements: “When it comes to learning, be it in mentoring or regarding new scientific ideas or techniques, I worry about the “blind spots,” that which I do not know that I do not know. The remedy for that, when it comes to scientific ideas, has been open, effective, and critical discussions with my peers. Could our mentoring, similar to our scientific ideas, benefit from the collective wisdom and experience from our colleagues and mentees?” Colón-Ramos shares his lab’s Statement of Mentorship: “not as a finished set of ideas, but as a living statement of our lab’s aspirations and to initiate a dialogue around mentorship.“ You can read the Mentoring Statement below, and for interest, there are links to 6 other Mentoring Statements that have been shared by academics: Statements of Mentorship by Daniel Colón-Ramos Mentoring...
On our sixth day of #FoRmentors – a short read about leadership

On our sixth day of #FoRmentors – a short read about leadership

This is part of a series of blog posts explaining our push for centering mentoring in academia. We are organizing a meeting in Chicago in June 2019 to take action – you can learn more about the effort here. Donate to our mentoring effort! A short read today: in “First law of leadership: be human first, scientist second” in Nature, Alison Antes discusses the issue of: “mentors who have excellent intentions but limited knowledge of how to create a healthy workplace.” How do we provide more resources to mentors? And what actions can mentors undertake themselves to become more prepared? This is another component that we wish to discuss in our meeting in Chicago in July. Read more in Alison’s World View piece here. Donate to our mentoring effort!...
On the fifth day of Christmas #FoRMentors gave to me….a center for mentors and trainees

On the fifth day of Christmas #FoRMentors gave to me….a center for mentors and trainees

This is part of a series of blog posts explaining our push for centering mentoring in academia. We are organizing a meeting in Chicago in June 2019 to take action – you can learn more about the effort here. Donate to our mentoring effort! This is a guest post by FoR Board Member Juan Pablo Ruiz, the leader of the mentoring working group When I speak to folks, regardless of career stage, about my passion for improving mentoring environments and competency among biomedical researchers, especially among those who currently have students and postdocs in their labs, I’m often asked questions relating to the difficulty in defining just exactly what constitutes mentoring: “How can you define mentoring, it’s so different for everyone, and changes as you develop across a career? No one model fits all.” “How do you differentiate between supervision and mentorship?” And more often than not, “But where’s the data, and how do we know what works and what doesn’t? Aren’t most of those workshops and trainings just a waste of time?” The thing is, for how much stock most of us, as life scientists, put into data and publications, we are either unaware of, or, more unfortunately, uncomfortable with, data and publications coming from our colleagues in the social sciences. And while many of us have been asking these questions regarding mentoring and lab environments during our lunch breaks or at the pubs after a day in the lab, social scientists have actually been providing a significant amount of rigorous literature on these topics, helping us answer these questions and ask better ones. In particular, one group, known as the National Research Mentoring Network (NRMN), has been providing mentoring training and assessment...
Our third of twelve days of #FoRmentors: the perception gap between lab members and lab leaders

Our third of twelve days of #FoRmentors: the perception gap between lab members and lab leaders

This is part of a series of blog posts explaining our push for centering mentoring in academia. We are organizing a meeting in Chicago in June 2019 to take action – you can learn more about the effort here. Donate to our mentoring effort! One of the issues we most frequently encounter at Future of Research is a gap in perception between what early career researchers experience, and what senior researchers perceive to be happening. This comes up in issues such as salaries and financial hardship; career awareness and development opportunities and even issues related to scholarship. In “Some hard numbers on science’s leadership problems“, survey data illustrates some of these gaps in perception. From “Some hard numbers on science’s leadership problems” in Nature, survey data illustrating the perception gaps between junior and senior lab members. One of the reasons for our focus on mentorship is improving communication between junior and senior lab members. Often junior researchers are not communicating issues to more senior members, likely due to fears about power dynamics and the role senior members can play in career progression (we will discuss power dynamics in an upcoming post). But likewise often senior lab members are simply unaware of issues junior researchers may face, even when entirely sympathetic to them, especially when the system is more competitive than when they may have passed through it, depending on when they navigated their way through the academic system. Greater communication is needed between researchers at all levels of the research enterprise, to fully appreciate what the realities of the system are, but also to ensure research and training are...