Code of Conduct

Code of Conduct

Aims of Programme

The gender gap in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) fields is a serious societal problem that needs to be addressed. At each stage of academic careers, a high percentage dropout of women is well observed. Our programme aims to target the transition from undergraduate to postgraduate to encourage proportionately more women to pursue careers in science and technology. This is often a very difficult phase for many women, particularly women in developing countries, as they do not usually have access to leading, female role models to inspire and guide them. It is extremely challenging  in a male-dominated environment for women of many cultures to find mentors they can easily talk to and get advice from. We aim to improve this situation by connecting undergraduate women in STEM, particularly in Physics, to established female researchers around the world to receive mentoring.

We aim to:

  • Connect women undergraduates in Physics, with a focus on students from developing countries, to established female physicist role models.
  • Provide support for female undergraduate students as they transition to postgraduate studies, in the form of personal mentoring.
  • Provide guidance on various topics including: career choices, application process, CVs, work-life balance and gender-specific harassment.
  • Provide generally useful advice in form of regular webinars that anyone can attend but which are focused on women in science.
  • Create a resource of recorded webinars with useful advice and interesting discussion that will be publicly available

This Code of Conduct serves to outline the expectations of the members of the Supernova Foundation. All Mentors and Mentees must agree to adhere to this Code of Conduct before being accepted into the programme.

Global webinars

To achieve as wide a reach as possible, we will host regular webinars, in addition to the personal mentoring, that will be available to anyone in the world. These webinars, running once roughly every 3 months, will take the form of a discussion between a few mentors and possibly guests.

A variety of topics will be discussed and mentees can request topics they want to hear about at future webinars. We will also enable a chat facility to allow mentees to ask questions before and during the webinar.

Each webinar will be chaired by one of the mentors, who will also be responsible for the general organisation of the webinar, including setting a date and time, finding appropriate panel members (who may be mentors or guests), soliciting help from a fellow mentor to handle the questions that are asked in the chat and the general running of the meeting while the webinar is ongoing.

The webinars, while aimed at undergraduate women from disadvantaged backgrounds considering a career in physics, will be freely available with the intention of reaching a wide audience.


Private mentoring

Private mentoring is designed to provide individual and focused  support for each fellow of the programme. The goal of personal mentoring is to aid the mentee in making career choices and to provide a role model to reduce feelings of isolation and disconnectedness that may otherwise prevent them from pursuing post-graduate studies in Physics.

Mentees will be assigned to a mentor upon joining the programme, although they can request personal mentoring sessions from any mentor in the programme if, for example, another mentor may have experience in a specific topic or situation that would prove useful.

Mentors are expected to meet virtually with their mentees, either by internet voice calls or chats, at least once every three months. The rest of the time, mentees should request personal mentoring sessions whenever they have any questions or concerns they wish to discuss. The onus is on the mentees to make use of the valuable resource available to them.

Application to join the programme is open to any woman undergraduate student around the world studying Physics, although this may be extended to other STEM fields in the future. Applications from women in developing countries are prioritised.

Potential mentees can apply at any time, but applications will be assessed at intervals throughout the year. An application from a student must include their CV and a short motivation as to how they will benefit from mentoring. Each application must be vetted by at least two mentors for consideration. The limit of the number of participants in the programme will depend on the number and availability of mentors.

Mentees are appointed for a six month period where after they are assessed for progress and commitment to the programme to determine if their fellowship is to continue.

Membership will expire for students choosing to leave academia at the end of their undergraduate studies. Mentors will fully support such choices, but are best able to provide specific support for those continuing on the academic path. This could be waived in exceptional circumstances.

Upon completing their first year of postgraduate studies, fellows will be invited to become Junior Mentors and in turn mentor other students, while still having access to Senior Mentors.


Mentors’ Commitments

For a programme such as this to work, we rely entirely on the commitment of our volunteer mentors. The programme is designed to be flexible, allowing mentors to commit as much or as little time as they feel they can. That being said, there are a few minimum commitments required to be a mentor in the programme:

  • Mentors commit to having at least one mentee under their guidance.
  • Mentors commit to having at least one private mentoring session with each mentee every month to check their progress.
  • Mentors commit to responding to all private mentoring requests promptly (within 3 working days except when on leave or travelling), to either confirm or deny the request.
  • Mentors commit to notifying the programme management when they will not be available for mentoring due to leave, travel or other circumstances.
  • Each mentor commits to assist in the application process for new mentees.
  • Mentors commit to participating in at least one webinar per year, either as chair, panel member or question manager.
  • Mentors agree to allow the webinars to be recorded and made public.
  • Mentors commit to maintaining confidentiality of their mentees, unless given explicit consent by the mentee.
  • While mentors are expected to maintain confidentiality, they are not expected to be professional counsellors. Should a difficult emotional or psychological situation arise, the mentor is expected to recommend the mentee seek professional help.
  • Mentors are expected to give advice based on their own experience to the best of their ability, however it is not their responsibility to ensure the mentees follow said advice.
  • Mentors commit to conducting themselves professionally at all times. In the unlikely event of bullying or harassment, a mentor may be asked to leave the programme.
  • Should a mentor wish to leave the programme, they commit to giving at least one month’s notice to allow their mentees to be reassigned.


Mentees’ Commitments

To be a fellow of the programme, students are expected to commit themselves to making good use of the valuable resource provided in mentoring. Mentees are assessed regularly and any student found to have breached their commitments may be asked to leave the programme to make room for a student more in need of mentoring. Mentees should be prepared to commit to the following:

  • Mentees commit to attending every virtual webinar. Any absence must be apologised for in writing to programme management.
  • Mentees may request up to a maximum of two private mentoring sessions per month. Requests should be made at least one week in advance of the expected meeting date on the websites. Mentees may request any mentor but will also be assigned a primary mentor that they will usually meet with. Meeting requests must include a particular topic the mentors want to discuss, this topic can be broad and will not be seen by anyone other than management and the requested mentor.
  • Mentees commit to attending every private mentoring session requested.
  • Mentees commit to engaging with the rest of the community of the programme, including other mentees. This engagement can take the form of general discussion on the closed social media group(s), asking questions at the webinars and direct emails to other participants in the programme. Mentees that do not show active interest in participating in the programme may have their fellowship terminated to make space for a new mentee.
  • Mentees commit to regular confidential reporting to help evaluate the programme and the impact it is having.
  • Mentees commit to maintaining the confidentiality of their private mentoring sessions, especially if private information is shared by their mentors.
  • Should a mentee continue to postgraduate studies, she will be asked if she would like to become a Junior Mentor after her first year to help mentor the next generation of students, while maintaining access to the Senior Mentors.
  • Mentees commit to notifying programme management immediately should they decide to leave the programme or to leave academia.
  • Mentees commit to conducting themselves professionally at all times. In the unlikely event of bullying or harassment, a mentee may be asked to leave the programme.