The CGIAR Women in Research and Science (WIRES) employee-led resource group recently had a virtual engagement to discuss the progress and new happenings in the group. The meeting, themed “Connecting and Mentoring, What’s new with WIRES!” was held on October 24.
Giving the opening remarks, The Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT Knowledge Sharing Specialist Arwen Bailey stated that the group was launched in July 2020 to empower and increase the visibility of women research and science professionals across CGIAR.
Bailey and other co-coordinators, International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) Technical Program Manager Aparna Das, IITA HarvestPlus Cassava Breeder Elizabeth Parkes, and International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA) Communication Consultant Nada Abdelhamid, shared their reasons for volunteering in WIRES. Participants also highlighted their expectations for the meeting.
Explaining the vision and mission of the group, Das stated that WIRES aims to provide tools and knowledge that support professional development. She added that this would create visibility for CGIAR women in science and research so their voices are heard and their contributions recognized. “We are an open community that accommodates both men and women who are willing to support the vision of WIRES,” she said.
Discussing her reason for sponsoring WIRES, CGIAR Executive Managing Director Claudia Sadoff said she admires the efforts and engagement of the team in supporting women despite having other personal life activities. She added that the increase in the percentage of women scientists calls for more effort to train and empower these women. “Thanks for allowing me to be your sponsor,” she said. International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) Director General Jimmy Smith, also a sponsor, stated that his motivation to join the cause stems from his experience raising daughters.
Highlighting how intending volunteers can support WIRES, Das spoke on mentorship as a promising strategy to advance Gender, Diversity and Inclusion (GDI) in the workplace as it offers access and advocacy for women. Explaining the criteria for engagement, she stated that a mentor must be passionate about advancing GDI, while the mentee must be a middle to senior-level career woman researcher/scientist with an appetite to learn. “Registration for the program will begin in November, and the program will kick off in December. Interested mentors and mentees who meet the criteria can register and be trained,” she said.
Other new WIRES initiatives coming up before the end of 2022 include “Random coffee,” where members can schedule to meet physically or virtually to build a vibrant relationship and network, and “Focus groups” for discussions that will ensure continuous improvement for WIRES.
Closing out the meeting, CGIAR Global Director of People and Culture, Fiona Bourdin-Farrell, summarized ways volunteers can help to advance women in science and research in CGIAR. She mentioned that it starts with joining the WIRES team, being a part of the mentoring program, engaging in the random coffee pilot, and joining focus groups. “You can contribute to the information in the newsletter. You can also register as both mentor and mentee as long as you meet the criteria,” she concluded.
Read the original article: New WIRES initiatives to advance women’s careers in science and research
Contributed by Ochuwa Favour Daramola.