In March 2017, two postdocs initiated a peer-support group at BRIC. The concept of the goup is based on the famous LEAN IN platform specifically developed to promote gender equality at leadership positions. The current 20 participants are divided into two support circles, including researchers at different levels of their career (PhD students, postdocs, assistant professors, staff scientists), from different labs, with and without family responsibilities. The goal is to promote the transfer of experience, in both, work and life issues.
The LEAN IN initiative is based on the success of Sheryl Sandberg’s (COO at Facebook) TED talk on “Why we have too few women leaders” and the book “Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead”. It was originally developed for women in corporate America, where gender plays an even bigger role than in the field of science. However, the platform became very successful over the last couple of years, and now is used by females in any professional area. Currently there are 30,000 LEAN IN circles in the world located in 154 countries.
What it entails
The LEAN IN curriculum runs over a 10-month period and includes 1 meeting of the circle per month. During the meetings, the participants will work through the following topics for which material is provided by the LEAN IN platform:
- Power of female peer support - Why is peer support important? How to support your peers? Peer support in action
- Centered leadership - How to build trust and form relationships, how to understand and accept your fears, importance of taking risks
- Effective communication - Body language of authority and approachability and how to use both styles
- Work and family - Letting go of perfection, prioritising goals, strategies to improve the work/home balance, strategies for effective energy renewal and recovery, how to achieve 50/50 partnership?
“It is our expectation that the LEAN IN program will allow us to build strong female peer support groups at BRIC. We hope that through working together in such groups we will gain more confidence, learn how to accept and fight our fears, as well as master effective communication and leadership skills. We will also share and discuss experiences on achieving desirable work/home balance and 50/50 partnership. In general, through these circles we aim to facilitate our participants to “lean in” and “sit at the table”, when it comes to work opportunities.”