Mentorship programme targets female STEM faculty

Female faculty members in any field of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) from 17 African countries can participate in the 2018 Partnerships for Enhanced Engagement in Research (PEER) programme, a mentorship initiative funded by the United States Agency for International Development and administered by America’s National Academy of Sciences.

The latest call is targeted at post-doctoral fellows in Sub-Saharan Africa and select Arab world countries, the priority being African countries where, according to the US academy, the least number of women participate in peer calls for funding.

It blames the low applications from Africa on a lack of experience in applying for international research awards, insufficient time due to other responsibilities, lack of confidence, absence of role models and few mentors.

Under the peer scheme, a senior scientist mentors a group of not more than four junior faculty members, helping them to develop confidence and a range of skills, including work-life balance, networking, research proposal writing, and publishing research papers, among others.

The programme makes grants of between US$1,000-US$2,000 to mentors and mentees for periods of up to one year mentorship duration, and up to US$10,000 grants to conduct research at the end of the mentorship period.

After successful mentoring, mentees are eligible to apply for grants to enable them to conduct a pilot research project.

Female academics from Angola, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, South Africa, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia are eligible to apply before the 16 March closing date. - Compiled by Maina Waruru