Offer of mentoring and empowerment courses to improve visibility, self-confidence, negotiating 
and leadership skills, particularly dedicated to the underrepresented gender

Main aim of the action

The main objective of this action is to increase the self-efficacy and leadership skills of female researchers and professors

Expected impact

Increased awareness of one’s own abilities and strengths. Improved communication and relational skills and competences to overcome stereotypes and succeed in very competitive work environments.

Implementation

The PLOTINA Team decided to involve Progetto Donna in the provision of these courses, for its expertise in the field. A first meeting between UNIBO and PD was held on the 21th of March 2017. During the meeting, partners agreed on the necessity to organize two different courses in order to better meet the needs of the potential audience. The first course was organized in the following way: 3 lessons of 3 hours each, targeting Phd, research fellows, early-stage researchers and professors and Technical and administrative staff, with a special focus on empowerment, self-esteem and self-confidence. The second course, was originally conceived as 3 hours seminar focused on visibility, negotiating and leadership skills targeting only Full and Associate Professors. Many participants in the first course, though, explicitly requested to be admitted to the second one as well, so the PLOTINA Team decided to include them by virtue of their interest and motivation. The PLOTINA UNIBO Team asked to the Directors of Doctoral Programms in the STEMM and SSH fields (involving, in particular, the Engineering, Medicine, Law and Management Doctoral Schools) to promote the course among Phd Students.  Thanks to the support of CESIA (UNIBO Informatics Unit), both the courses were promoted among PhD’ students, research fellows and professors. Registration was compulsory to attend the meeting. The first course was successfully delivered and an average of 13 persons attended the three meetings.  The second course on leadership was held on November the 8th 2018 and it targeted UNIBO technical and teaching staff working in the STEMM and SSH fields 2018.

Since many potential candidates were left out because of their impossibility to register (for both time and organizational constraints), the PLOTINA Team agreed with PD to organize a second edition of the two courses between January and February 2019. The second edition has already received more than 40 statements of interest.

Results

The first course on empowerment for career progression consisted of 3 meetings that, on average, 13 persons attended. The overall number of participants was of 18 women. Specifically, 8 attended the first meeting, 18 the second and 14 the last one. 8 women attended the first meeting and, interestingly enough, they attended the whole course; 4 out of 18 attended 2 meetings, while 5 out of 18 attended only one meeting (the second one). Originally, 25 persons (including 3 men) officially registered to the course; because of organizational and time constraints (teaching and administrative duties), though, many subscribers communicated that they were forced to renounce to the course attendance. 6 out of 18 participants were technical and administrative staff; 4 were Phd students in STEM fields; 7 were Research. Fellows (4 in SSH and 3 in STEM fields) and one was a tenured researcher in STEM fields. The second course on Leadership, held on the 8th of November, consisted of one meeting lasting 4 hours. It was attended by 15 participants. 6 out of 15 participants were technical and administrative staff; 9 were Professors and Researchers, specifically: 6 professors, one research fellow, one PhD student. Among them 6 belong to the STEM field of studies, 2 from the SSH.

Evaluation

Evaluation questionnaires were delivered to participants at the end of the first course; 14 respondents participated in the survey. Most of the attendees described the course as stimulating, useful and interesting (they could choose 3 options out of the 9 possibilities foreseen by the questionnaire). Only one person defined it as marginal and simple. Two more respondents defined it as “simple”, in these cases, though, “simple” was associated to other positive options (stimulating, useful, interesting), so this definition should be interpreted as “accessible”.  According to 9 out of 14 respondents, the course met their expectations while for 5 of them expectations were met only in part; most the latter group, though, reported that they would have appreciated more than three meetings, demonstrating an overall interest towards these sorts of initiatives. 12 out 14 respondents agreed that the skills achieved can be applied to their work life, while 2 only partially agreed with this statement; 9 agreed that their awareness on the requested attitudes for career advancement increased after the course, while 4 partially agreed and only one disagreed. The overall evaluation of the course ranged from sufficient (3 respondents), to good (5 respondents) and excellent (6 respondents). Most of the respondents suggested increasing the number of the meetings, confirming their interest towards the course and the issues that were addressed.

The same survey was delivered to the participants at the second course on leadership (8 November). 12 participants evaluated as stimulating and useful the contents of the course, 11 evaluated them as interesting. Only one participants has marked the voice “other” meaning for “other” full of proposals. According to 12 out of 15 respondents, the course met their expectations while for 3 of them expectations were met only in part; 13 out 15 respondents agreed that the skills achieved can be applied to their work life, while 2 only partially agreed with this statement; 11 agreed that their awareness on the requested attitudes for career advancement increased after the course, while 3 partially agreed and only one disagreed. The overall evaluation of the course ranged from good (10 respondents) and excellent (5 respondents). Most of the respondents suggested increasing the number of the meetings, confirming their interest towards the course and the issues that were addressed

Lessons learnt/transferability/reflection

Valuing UNIBO human resources competences, skills and knowledge could enable UNIBO making this action sustainable in the future, once the PLOTINA Project ends (January 2020).

Key area

Recruitment, career progression and retention

Type of action

Training

Organization

Alma Mater Studiorum – Universita Di Bologna (UNIBO)
Higher education institution

Action level of implementation

Researchers/professors and technical and administrative staff, students