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LeanIn Peer-Support Group at MDC

21 Jun 2017

MDC has established a peer-support group to further support and guide postdocs through their career development, as well as to make them more self–confident and more self–aware of their own skills. I took the initiative to create the group based on the LeanIn platform, after exchanging with Séverine le Bras, the LIBRA manager at BRIC, who started such a group earlier this year at BRIC. Read more about the BRIC story.

The MDC peer support group was opened only for postdocs without the need of registration or selection procedures. Male postdocs were also invited to take part of it, but unfortunately no interest was shown.  Six postdocs and two PhD students, who have attended previous meetings organised by the Berlin LeanIn group, are participating in the peer-support group and are very keen and enthusiastic with this new opportunity.

Our first meeting was held on 29 May 2017, where we got to know each other, we identified the group´s goals and talked about the group expectations. We will follow the suggested 10-month program from the LeanIn website, focused on leadership, communication and work-life balance. Conflict management and mobility topics will be also included, as they are matters of concern for our female researchers.

The most important aspect of the MDC group is the attendance of female professors and female scientists outside academia, who will served as role models for our scientists and will give advice on, how to overcome challenging situations to reach leadership positions. We will count with the presence of Prof. Dorothea Fiedler, director of the Leibniz Institute for Molecular Pharmacology; Dr. Manuela Urban, director of the Forschungsverbund in Berlin; and Dr. Renate Weisse, patent attorney.  Hopefully there will be more on our list.


Why did they join this group?

When asked, the participants stated that they expect to increase their self-confidence and to become leaders without being bossy. They all would like to remain in academia but they don’t know how to go forward. “How can we approach our PIs and ask them for support and sponsorship?” There are so many paths out there, and they need to know what are the right steps to follow. It is important to create a strong network, a strong group to guide each other, to help them handling failure. A network that includes positive examples of female group leaders with children! They hope that this group will help them to find some of the answers to these questions.


By Carolina Corrales, LIBRA coordinator at MDC Berlin, Germany