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Mentoring for young female scholars at Osnabrück University

German version

Mentoring programs for young female scholars are one of the targeted instruments for developing young scholars at Osnabrück University. The University’s programs help to give highly-qualified women the best possible opportunities to achieve their career goals. The programs combine the individual mentoring relationship between mentees and mentors with a needs-oriented training program, in which networking plays an important role. The mentoring programs are established at Osnabrück University’s PhD/Postdoc Career Center (ZePrOs).

News and current events in the mentoring programs

  • Application process for the next mentoring-program for female doctoral candidates: 21 October 2019-17 January 2020
  • Start of the next mentoring-program for female doctoral candidates: May 2020
  • Start of the next mentoring-program for postdocs and junior professors: May 2021

Current career fairs

  • Her career - covers all aspects of female and family-friendly career planning: October 10/11, 2019 - Munich Read more
  • Career fair (Chance) of the University of Applied Sciences Osnabrück: 13/14 November 2019 Read more

Passing on the baton and ceremonial kick-off event of the mentoring program for young female doctoral candidates 2018

Die Teilnehmerinnen des Programmdurchlaufs für Postdoktorandinnen und Juniorprofessorinnen übergeben die Staffelstäbe an ihre Nachfolgerinnen, Foto: Tanja Kalmlage

This year’s ceremonial kick-off event of the mentoring program for female doctoral candidates took place in the Bohnenkamp-Haus of the Botanic garden of Osnabrück University. Accompanied by an extensive framework program, 12 tandems of the mentoring program for female postdocs and junior professors were sent off. At the same time, Prof.in Dr. Martina Blasberg-Kuhnke, Vice President for Academic Program Development and Teaching, welcomed 12 new candidates of the mentoring program for doctoral candidates along with their mentors. The title of this year’s program is called: “Career paths within and outside academia”.

In addition to a musical accompaniment, the passing on the baton and ceremonial kick-off event was rounded off by a public lecture held by Professor Heather Hofmeister Ph.D. The topic of the lecture was: “Life courses within and outside academia ‒ The secret truths between statistical research results and personal experience”. The professor for sociology at Goethe-University Frankfurt am Main presented qualitative research findings on individual motives for career decisions of young doctoral candidates.

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Gafik: Universität Osnabrück

Mentoring can be defined as a professional relationship in which an experienced executive (the mentor) assists a young scholar with leadership potential (the mentee). The mentoring relationship is geared towards developing the mentee’s career and personality. Mentoring is a type of informal learning in which experience and knowledge are exchanged between people at different stages of development who come from different hierarchy levels.

Although mentoring programs are well established in industry and politics, they became popular at universities only since the 1990s. In higher education, they are used as a tool for ensuring equal opportunities and the effective, targeted development of young scholars.


The higher the level of qualification, the lower the proportion of women in the system of higher education. This phenomenon, known as the “leaky pipeline”, signifies a substantial loss of academic potential for universities. For example, the Joint Science Conference (GWK) stated that 18 per cent of all professorships in Germany were held by women in 2011. The reasons for this are that young female scholars are often lacking in networks and role models, or they receive inadequate career planning support. By implementing the mentoring program, Osnabrück University aims to help counteracting this trend. Highly qualified young female scholars are to be individually nurtured on their path to executive positions according to their specific consultation needs. In this connection, their skills and potentials are to be identified and strengthened. In the medium-term, the mentoring program aims to achieve greater representation of women in executive positions.

Advantages of mentoring programs

All of the parties involved benefit from mentoring programs. The mentees, who have the largest gain, are given individual academic career guidance. However, the mentors who engage voluntarily in developing young scholars and the universities that include developing young scholars in their range of services also benefit from it.

How mentees benefit:
•    Individual support in strategic career planning
•    Training in science-specific and interdisciplinary key competencies
•    Strengthening of management and leadership skills
•    Advancing knowledge of higher education policy and the acquisition of research funding
•    Information about informal “rules of the game” within the system of higher education
•    Development of interdisciplinary networks

How mentors benefit:
•    Active role in developing young scholars and enjoyment in developing young people professionally
•    Feedback and information from another hierarchy level rarely communicated so openly by one’s own employees
•    Reflection on one’s own career path and management experience
•    Further development of advisory skills and stimulation of new ideas for one’s own work
•    Expansion of interdisciplinary scientific networks

How the University benefits:
•    Improvement in quality of developing young scholars
•    Advantages in the competition for young scholars thanks to targeted, needs-oriented support
•    Contribution to gender-sensitive scientific culture by promoting equal opportunities
•    Creation of synergies through networking (e.g. new collaborative research projects on interdisciplinary issues)

Logos: Universität Osnabrück