During the induction workshops for both mentors and mentees a number of questions were asked. FAQs have been compiled to reflect the questions asked.
- What kinds of goals can be met through the project?
These were outlined in the overview of the project, but they should be negotiated between the mentee/mentor matching the mentor's experience to the mentee's expectations
- What will be the time commitment?
We would recommend a minimum of at least two face-to-face meetings a term. However, again this is open to negotiation. Mentoring pairs can also correspond by phone/email/Skype in between face-to-face meetings.
- Will there be any other events or workshops linked to the programme during the year apart from the launch event and mentee induction?
There may be other events, based on what participants said they needed in the induction sessions. The project group will keep participants informed of any events over the next year.
- What is the procedure for matching us to a mentor?
The matching is an informal exercise carried out by the project group based on the information supplied to the group on the expression of interest forms and refined in the feedback forms completed at the end of the induction workshops.
- How are mentors selected? What is their motivation for participating? What will mentors be gaining from the relationship?
Mentors have been recruited based on their interest and interests, experience, expertise and discipline. The principle motivation seems to be genuine concern about the lack of BME academics and wanting to give something back, to pass on what they know. In some cases it may also help with their own promotion prospects.
- What does my institution know about the scheme? What have, or will, line managers be told about the project?
We think that it can be helpful for you to involve your line managers in supporting the aims of the scheme because their support may be required to enable you to attend, for example, workshops. A letter has been drafted to send to line managers which you can give to your line manager if you wish.
- Will my mentor talk to my line manager?
This is not something we foresee, though there may be individual circumstances that make this desirable. In any event your mentor will not contact your line manager without your agreement.
- How will it be different to having an internal mentor at my own university?
You will have the opportunity to get out of the usual working environment, perhaps be more candid and maybe understand the working culture of other universities/departments. Remember however, that you may be matched internally.
- How will my existing mentor feel about me having a new mentor?
You would need to ask them but the goals of the mentoring may be different. It is quite common for people, especially in the US , to have a circle of mentors/advisers with different expertise. It is perhaps unrealistic to expect all the qualities and experience you would like in one person.
- Is the project doing anything at the same time about jobs being allocated informally and not being advertised? (which is seen as a major barrier to BME staff advancement)
Any work on these issues will be taken forward outside of this project and may vary from institution to institution.
- Can we discuss minority issues with our mentors?
Absolutely, though different mentors will have different levels of expertise for example in intercultural issues. However, as the mentor group is self-selecting it is likely that they would feel comfortable, and perhaps even expect, to address these issues. We hope that one of the institutional benefits of the scheme will be a greater understanding of diversity among senior staff in the participating institutions.
- Will my mentor be able to help me if I decide on a career change into industry or, at least, outside of academia?
A good mentor should be able to get the balance right between providing advice and guidance, and offering a space for the mentee to explore ideas. This will also depend on whether they have worked outside academia themselves. If you express this as an objective we will aim to find you a suitable mentor, however, the overall goal of the scheme is to have more senior staff from BME backgrounds within participating institutions.