You are starting a Nordic network. Why?
‘Because we have a lot to learn from each other. The network will enable the members to share experiences and together refine the methods used. We want to inspire each other but also promote the use of mentoring and show others how useful the method is.’
Mentoring – how can it be used?
‘Mentoring programmes targeting women in leading positions are fairly common. New executives may benefit from talking to somebody with more experience and a larger network. Mentors can for the same reasons offer important support to people with problems entering the labour market. That’s how we have used the method at the Centre for Equality. We for example launched a very successful mentoring programme targeting women who are new in Norway.’
How were the mentors helpful in that programme?
‘They offered encouragement and helped the women strengthen their self-esteem. Women who have immigrated to Norway often face a special set of problems in the labour market. If you apply for a large number of jobs and then have to endure a steady flow of negative responses, it’s going to slowly break you down. The mentors helped the women focus on their competence and became important contact points in their new society.’
What do you think the members can learn from each other?
‘Bunches! The Danes in particular are big on mentoring, and they have a lot of knowledge that will benefit the other countries. There are numerous mentoring schemes targeting all sorts of groups across the Nordic region. There are for example mentors for people with disabilities and projects targeting adolescents. The programmes can be tailored to the needs at hand and can be designed in any shape or form. That’s one thing that makes the work so exciting, but also difficult. You really have to think about what needs there are and what you want to accomplish. You can’t just copy somebody else’s programme.’
What happens next in the project?
‘We will hold our first meeting in connection with this autumn’s meeting of the European mentoring network. At the top of the agenda is the planning of a Nordic conference next spring.’
This is an article about one of the projects granted funding through the Nordic Gender Equality Fund.