Women’s Health Research Working Group: A Mentorship Model to Increase Women’s Participation in Research
Background: Female academia makes up only a fifth of all faculty at Addis Ababa University, where only a few are actively engaged in research. With a belief that dedicated mentorship could bring positive change in research participation, a female-to-female mentorship group was established at the College of Health Sciences.
Objective: This study aimed to assess the effectiveness of mentorship in improving the research participation of young female academia from August 2016-April 2019.
Methods: The implementation was instituted by establishing a female-only research working group to enhance the participation of young female faculty members who were newly employed in a relatively large number. The main interventions were the coupling of mentors and mentees based on their respective research areas for two hours’ weekly lunchtime and providing need-based training and life skill talks by exemplary women. We used a desk review and written testimonies of the Group to evaluate the effectiveness of the intervention.
Results: Young academics of the Group started to author scientific articles while the mentors had increased their publication track. The Group won a competitive three-year research grant. from Addis Ababa University. Its visibility due to its research output has helped to attract more members and encouraged the establishment of other sister groups in the University. The Group has also received the best female research group award from the Ministry of Science and Higher Education.
Conclusion: Female-to-female mentorship had helped researchers in their early careers to publish and won grants. This could be an exemplary intervention which only requires a commitment of staff time. [Ethiop. J. Health Dev. 2021; 35(SI-2):08-14]
Keywords: Female faculty, Implementation research, Mentorship, Research working group