2012 Women in Astronomy Meeting

Following from the success of the 2011 meeting and maintaining the momentum from the ASA Early Career Research workshop, the Chapter hosted another Speed Meet-a-Mentor session on Thursday 5th July at 4pm at the 2012 ASA ASM in Sydney. The session was open to everyone – men and women, students, postdocs and professors – and attended by about 90 people.

It is well known that mentoring is important during your career, and that the guidance and support of mentors is vital in helping you succeed.  Mentoring is clearly beneficial for professional organisations as well, ensuring that their members/employees maintain strong relationships and networks across the field.  Mentoring or coaching can provide both the mentor and mentee with new ways of thinking and offer a fresh perspective on both challenges and opportunities. Mentoring is not just senior to junior but spans all stages of a career, and people generally have more than one mentor throughout their career. The mentoring relationship can open doors and is an opportunity to develop new skills. By sharing experiences, mentoring also raises self-esteem and provides personal fulfillment.

The format of the Speed Meet-a-Mentor session was similar to last year, with mentors and mentees paired up for a quick chat (~5 minutes) before moving on to the next person. The conversations were generally quite informal and casual, providing the opportunity for diverse groups to meet each other.  The aim was to build confidence so that if a mentee wanted to approach someone and build a mentoring partnership that could become a possibility, as well as improving people’s ability to network and increase their willingness to speak up during meetings or discussions.

Scenes from the 2012 ASA Speed-Meet-A-Menor session. (Credit: Sarah Maddison)

Best advice on the day:

  • “Get some students to work on some of your ideas”
  • “Make every plot finished publication ready when you first make it”
  • “Flexible time arrangements are possible – talk to your supervisor!”
  • “Create your own ideal job: work out what you want to do and who will pay for you to do it”