The EU4Digital Facility has concluded its work on supporting the six Eastern partner countries in the set-up of women’s mentorship programmes in tech, with a guidebook on ‘Setting up mentorship programmes to bridge the gender gap in ICT’, based on a case study of the Women Go TechTM (WGT) mentorship programme and adapted to the realities of the Eastern partner countries.
Mentorship as a tool
Mentorship is usually understood as a one-on-one learning relationship between a mentee and an expert (mentor) in a specific topic or discipline. This concept is seen as one of the most efficient tools to accelerate learning in a professional field. It was also selected by EU4Digital to address the gender gap in the Eastern partner countries by sharing knowledge and experience of the EU practitioners from the WGT programme, who had launched similar programmes in the Baltic and Nordic countries.
Adaptation to local needs
With the aim of transfering knowledge on organising women’s mentorship programmes in tech, the Facility collaborated with six local partner organisations – Girls in Tech Armenia Programme (Armenia); Women in ICT Club – Femmes Digitales (Azerbaijan); EPAM (Women EPAM Training Programme) (Belarus); Georgia’s Innovation and Technology Agency (Georgia); Moldovan Association of Information and Communications Technology Companies (The Republic of Moldova); Girls in STEM Initiative (Ukraine).
Multiple workshops were held to analyse women’s position in the local tech markets, organisations’ experiences in mentoring and awareness-raising of other women’s professional practices in tech, and organisations’ readiness to implement a mentorship programme. These sessions resulted in the following benefits for partner organisations:
- Transferred knowledge of mentorship programme set-up by sharing practical tips and lessons learnt from WGT and partner organisations’ experience. It created grounds for further development of new or improvement of existing women mentorship projects in the region.
- Established networking of partner organisations’ representatives that settled the basis for future partnerships and cooperation in joint initiatives on the topic of women’s equality and others – for example, set-up of regional mentors’ pool for potential future mentorship programmes.
- Developed mentorship programme guidelines that laid the ground to set up mentorship programmes on a country or regional level.
Composition of the guide for mentorship programmes
The guide is focused on the following topics: programme structure and content of educational activities, target audiences, resources (financial, human and technical) and execution activities (mentors’ and mentees’ selections and matching). The mentor selection and participants’ acquisition were among the most important aspects of successful mentorship programme mentioned by representatives of involved partner organisations . The importance of clear selection criteria for mentors that include being a specific tech track specialist, taking a leading role, was also emphasised.
As a result of the multiple sessions with local beneficiaries, the guidebook was developed, aimed in particular at any organisations willing to kick-start a scalable and high-quality mentorship programme, which can achieve visible impact from the very start. The guide provides a practical checklist of key steps for mentorship programme set-up, ways for practical implementation and a timeline, including examples of success cases and advice as per best practices of the WGT programme. Besides that, the guide may also benefit relevant counterparties by:
- Building a deeper knowledge of the mentorship concept as such, its importance and benefits to the participants as well as society, particularly in the topic of gender equality in ICT innovation.
- Helping to understand the key challenges identified for deploying women mentorship programmes in the Eastern partner countries. This notably includes a lack of local donors for supporting such initiatives, while at the same time local actors have limited capacities in acquiring external support. Also, an overview of recommended actions to improve the conditions will be provided, indicating what type of support is needed from the local ecosystem actors.
The EU4Digital Facility aims to foster continuation by encouraging the local organisations taking over the implementation of a similar programme. The next steps of the EU4Digital Facility will therefore be to initiate a discussion on the future women in tech programme approach and interested organisations. The aim will be to consider how it could be implemented on a bilateral level, taking into account synergies with EU gender equality plans in the Eastern partner countries.
The guidebook is available for download on the EU4Digital Library here.