Newswise — Mentoring is often considered an essential element in a successful post-PhD career with many a savvy-starter getting sage advice from an experienced other. However, nailing down the true value of mentoring, from an industry perspective, has been much more elusive, until now.

In an Australian first, the University of South Australia’s in-house mentoring evaluation tool will address this challenge as L’Oréal Australia and New Zealand adopts the tool to enhance and monitor their PhD Mentoring program as part of the L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science program.

The UniSA Mentoring Impact Evaluation tool is the only longitudinal evaluation tool for PhD mentoring in Australia and this will be the first time it will be applied in a commercial environment

Chief developer, UniSA’s Associate Head Graduate Research Development, Claire Jackson, says she is excited to see UniSA’s mentoring evaluation tool applied to the corporate environment.

“Initially we developed the Mentoring Impact Evaluation tool to measure the effectiveness of mentoring programs on PhD employability,” Jackson says.

“Following its inaugural use to evaluate the government-supported Industry Mentoring Network in STEM (IMNIS) scheme, we were very pleased to see it adopted by all three South Australian universities, as well as universities in New South Wales.

“The beauty of our mentoring tool is that it has the capacity to measure mentees’ skills and knowledge development across the entire mentoring journey. We collect and monitor progress pre, mid, and post the experience, so we’re really delivering a 360-degree view.

“Importantly, the universal design of the tool means that it can be adopted for any longitudinal industry experience, and given the need to boost women in STEM, we’re so pleased that L’Oréal is adopting our product for their For Women in Science mentoring program.”

The L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science program (FWIS) promotes and highlights the importance of ensuring greater participation of women in science, with the program awarding exceptional female scientists at different stages of their careers with fellowships to help further their research. Part of this is a mentoring scheme where the current FWIS Fellows mentor passionate and ambitious PhD students.

L’Oréal Australia’s Communications Director, Christine Burke, says mentoring plays a vital role in inspiring and instilling confidence to women in STEM, especially during the early stages of their careers.

“Female role models and champions of change are ideal mentors to share advice and guidance to budding female scientists,” Burke says.

“Our mentoring scheme provides a fantastic opportunity to develop integral knowledge and skills, and to instil passion and a sense of empowerment into our future women leaders.

“But to gain the full advantage of a mentoring program, the benefits must flow both ways. That’s why the UniSA Mentoring Impact Evaluation tool will be so valuable.

“Being able to quantify the impact of mentoring and how it can deliver ongoing and significant benefits for the mentee and mentor, but also the business, is essential step to formalizing this much-valued practice for women in STEM.”