Three Circles of Alemat: Growth and Sustainability through Mentoring

Saturday, February 13, 2016
Rana Dajani, Hashemite University, Zarga, Jordan
Background: Women are underrepresented in the academic sciences worldwide. There is an urgent need to take a global action to provide women with social networks to advance in their professional lives and boost their well-being. Three Circles of Alemat proposes an innovative yet simple model to provide female professors in the STEM with opportunities of collaboration and collegiality through creating mentoring model of 10x10 model (mentors and mentees). The project is divided into three circles: Circle 1 (DEMN) is within Jordan, Circle 2 (BAYN) is within the Arab region, and Circle 3 (TAJAMUGH) is engaging women in the diaspora.  Three Circles of Alemat is an innovative approach to instill a social impact. It is based on simple networking requiring simple ways of communication in a very naturalistic setting which makes is easy to sustain yet it addresses the female science professor in a very holistic way: professional and personal growth.

Methodology:An analysis of different scenarios of mentor/mentee relationships from Circle 1 (DEMN) involving female STEM professors from different universities in Jordan, both public and private. Participants attended a mentoring workshop followed by a set of online surveys and phone interviews to deeply understand the nature of the mentorship, stories of success, challenges and opportunities for growth.

Results: The development of the understanding of Mentoring and the bigger picture progressed from vague, research collaboration, personal growth, professional networking. It is a relationship that is not based on family, work or any benefit. It is purely a new friendship. Participants became more aware of their strengths and weaknesses during the journey: some reported that they discovered that they are good listeners. Some found that they need to improve their decision making skills and become less hesitant. This experience led some to evaluate their communication skills as well. Some were fascinated by their openness to new solutions in problem solving. Busy schedules hinder the amount of communication especially face to face interactions between mentors and mentees.  Main topics discussed between mentors and mentees: setting priorities, time management, family, research, promotion and funding.

Conclusion: Three Circles of Alemat is research in action as it presents mentoring as a strategy to empower women and reduces the effects of social inequalities. It also reflects many of the UN Sustainable Development Goals that were proposed in March 2015 and will replace the Millennium Development Goals at the end of 2015. Some of these goals imply a well-being for all, lifelong learning opportunities for all, gender equality and female empowerment, sustained productive employment and global partnerships.