The mentoring programme FELISE, coordinated by FECYT, supported 35 early-career women researchers to advance in their academic careers and participate in decision-making bodies. Its aim was also to foster the cultural and institutional change needed to support gender equality in research. Indeed, it helped mentors and mentees jointly reflect on gender equality in research.

For an eight month period between 2020 and 2021, the researchers selected were paired with a feminist mentor within their institutions and, most of them were also paired with an international sponsor who wasfrom another institution but within their academic discipline. As part of the program, mentees had around five bilateral meetings with their mentors and two bilateral meetings with the sponsors. The pairings aimed to foster personal growth and institutional and cultural feminist change within the institutions. As well as supporting participants in their career development and international outreach within their field of knowledge.

FELISE also offered participants two capacity building sessions on career development and academic progression and three keynote presentations of women researchers who reflected on their careers and the challenges they encountered.

FELISE's Key Elements


• Fast-tracking FELISE mentees career paths by expanding their professional network and developing transferable skills.
• Help FELISE Mentors to developing stronger mentoring skills and increase gender equality in their institutions.
• Increasing the number of agents of change among institutions.
• Supporting institutional changes aimed at greater gender equality in academia.

Adressed Topcics

We asked mentors and mentees to discuss: organizational norms and practices, narratives, transferable skills, self-awareness, integrating a gender perspective in teaching and research, experimenting new practices, COVID-19 gendered impacts

We asked sponsors and mentees to discuss: career goals, professional networking

Voluntary and Virtual

• FELISE has been built on altruistic professionals wanting to contribute to gender equality in research and teaching. And we are so grateful!
• Due to the COVID-19 the programme, and its sessions were held virtually

What participants have shared with us

Following the mentor program, mentors and mentees were given surveys to complete. 27 mentees out of 35 filled it out (77%) and 23 mentors out of 35 (66%) completed it. The satisfaction surveys showed the following results.


  • 60% of respondents had 5 or more meetings with their mentees.
  • 15 respondents met with their sponsor.
  • Around 80% of respondents were either very or extremely satisfied with the FELISE programme and with their mentor.
  • 50% of respondents were either very or extremely satisfied with their sponsor.
  • 80% of the mentees plan to keep in touch with their mentor.
  • Over 65% were either very or extremely satisfied with the two career development workshops.
  • 81% of respondents would recommend a FELIS-like mentoring programme to their peers and 93% think these kind of programmes should be widely implemented in research institutions.


  • 65% of respondents were either very or extremely satisfied with the FELISE programme
  • 90% of respondents were very or extremely satisfied with the mentee from their own institution (mentoring meetings), while 65% were very or extremely satisfied with the mentee from another institution (sponsoring meetings)
  • 96 % of respondents would recommend a FELISE-like mentoring programme to their peers think these kind of programmes should be widely implemented in research institutions
FELISE mentors and mentees quotes

Participants also shared some of the following quotes on the program:

What we have learnt with FELISE
  • Although the programme was run successfully online, we believe that nothing compares to meeting your mentor or mentee in person to building that long-lasting relationship.
  • 7-8 months is a good time for these type of mentoring programmes
  • Gender equality programmes need to balance individual development and institutional and cultural change (avoid the “fix the women” approach!)
  • There are many mentors. Make sure you involve the right mentors in your programme. For the FELISE programme, an awareness and belief in feminist ideologies was essential.
  • Support and follow up of organizers is essential to guarantee the programme runs smoothly.
Available resources

Gearing Roles provided FELISE participants with a handbook and a career development template with all the necessary information to take part in the program, including talking points with both the sponsors and the mentors. We have published them under a CC-by licence in order to encourage others to reuse this material.

Host Institutions

University of Deusto


Sabanci University


University of Lisbon


Oxford Brookes University


University of Ljubljana


Estonian Research Council


Program coordinated by