WOMEN IN STEM TASK COLLEAGUES ON THE ADVANTAGES OF MENTORSHIP
A workshop to educate women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) on issues relating to mentoring has taken place at the Federal University of Technology, Akure. The event which held at the T.I Francis auditorium of the university on Thursday, September 26, 2019 brought together female senior academic of FUTA and sister institutions within and around Akure and students .Declaring the workshop open, the Vice Chancellor, Professor Joseph Fuwape, represented by the Deputy Vice Chancellor, Development, Professor Philip Oguntunde charged women who have not benefited from the program to tap into the opportunity. He said “if you have people that can show you the right path, it is a must to key into it”. He said a mentee should be an open-hearted individual willing to learn from people with higher knowledge which he or she can leverage on. He said FUTA would continue to provide the right atmosphere for the growth of young academics in order to position them for higher responsibilities in their career.
In a welcome address, a 2-time winner of the Schlumberger Foundation for the Future (FFTF) grant, Dr. (Mrs.) Folashade Olajuyigbe said the vision for the mentoring workshop was conceived during the Schlumberger Foundation Outreach Pilot Programme held in Abuja late 2018 to foster the progression of Nigerian Women in STEM. She commended the University management under the watch of the Vice Chancellor, Professor Joseph Fuwape and the Director of CEGIST, Professor (Mrs.) Tinuola Adebolu for their interest in advancing the positive progression of women in STEM, especially at FUTA.
Speaking on the topic, Mentoring: building a new generation, the Lead paper presenter, Professor Tinuola Adebolu, Director, Centre for Gender Issues in Science and Technology (CEGIST) said mentorship provides artificial benefits not only to individual but to the organization where such mentored individual are working. She said it helps the productivity of the staff so that they can contribute their quota in their respective places of work and chosen career. Adebolu, a Professor of Microbiology said one-on-one dynamic of bridging differences, cross-fertilization of skills and knowledge sharing, challenging one another and fostering cross-cultural understanding proves to benefit both parties, and is considered to be one of the most vital initiatives for developing talent internally and creating a pipeline of future potential leaders. “Having an experienced mentor can bring immense value to personal development and career as they provide different perspective which could be a blind spot, while mentoring boosts career success to the next level through empowerment,” she added. She said, to improve the mentee's confidence in their ability to execute the task at hand and help their communication skills, as well as give the mentee practice in accepting feedback from a consistent source the practical’s structured mentor-mentee must be put in place. Speaking further, she said there is no age barrier in mentoring because a younger person can be a mentor to an elderly one and vice versa. She said “having admired someone in a leadership position and emulating their behavioral characteristics and leadership styles could also be one way to choose a mentor”.
Professor Oluwayemisi Ogundare of the Department of Microbiology who spoke on the topic Structured Mentor-Mentee Relationship: Starting out, stressed the need to build a productive relationship between the mentor and the mentee. She said fostering mentee career advancement should be proactive in developing professional career and see the relationship as an important resource for career development and establishing a life-long colleague. On the attributes of a good mentor, she said the mentor must be vast in knowledge of the field in which the mentee works or inspire to work, adding that a good mentor must recognize that a mentee may not be able to meet all needs. “Mentee should take responsibility for identifying gaps and building a network of multiple mentors with needed strengths” she said. Analyzing the challenges of mentoring, she said, cognitive strength, emotional intelligence, time and availability constraints and non-formal or structured mentoring program which results in lack of focus, less or no commitment are the major challenges in mentoring