Be a Mentor or Mentee: USAID PEER Women in Science Mentoring Program for Women in Developing Countries 2018


The USAID is inviting applications from women in science in African and Arab countries intending to be mentors or mentees for the Partnerships for Enhanced Engagement in Research (PEER) program.

Application Deadline: 16th March 2018

Eligible Countries: Mentors and mentees must be permanent residents or citizens, residing in their home country, from any of the following countries to be eligible.

  • Sub-Saharan Africa: Angola, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, South Africa, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia
  • Arab States: Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco, Tunisia, West Bank/Gaza

About the Award: A persistent problem in higher education and academia is the “leaky pipeline”, a term that refers to the disproportionate fraction of qualified women who leave science as they move up the educational and career ladder. Women earn 41 percent of PhDs in STEM fields, but make up just 28 percent of tenure-track faculty. The worldwide loss of women in STEM, specifically from the transition from postdoctoral and junior faculty to senior faculty, has been explained by various reasons including: work/life balance conflicts, a hostile environment from co-workers, gender discrimination, few professional development opportunities, and a lack of role models and mentors.

Without mentors or role models, women receive limited advice about career and personal development. A mentor does not direct, but rather guides, and becomes a colleague that a mentee can depend on and trust. Mentoring helps address the feelings of isolation and marginalization that women in academic settings often report. In a 2017 study, women in engineering assigned a female mentor experienced more belonging, motivation and confidence, better retention in science, and greater career aspirations than women assigned either a male mentor, or no mentor at all. When more junior level professionals are more motivated and confident and have positive mentors and role models, they are also more likely to successfully win awards for research funding, aiding their movement up the professional career ladder.

The USAID PEER Program receives applications from across the globe, with the numbers varying regionally by gender. In the 2015 UNESCO Science Report, it was reported that, worldwide, women make up only 28% of people with careers in science, with regional figures ranging from 18.9% (Asia) to 44.3% (Latin America). The PEER Program has received more than 2,500 applications in six years, with fewer women applying from the Sub Saharan Africa region (just 18.4%, 11.7% lower than the UNESCO statistics) and the Arab States region (just 26.7%, 10.1% lower than the UNESCO statistics). Reasons for fewer applicants from these regions may include: lack of experience applying for international research awards, insufficient time due to other work/life responsibilities, lack of confidence, lack of role models that have won international research grants in the past, and/or few mentors to guide them through the process.

Fields of Study: Science fields

Type: Training, Jobs


  • Cohorts should be made up of one woman senior faculty mentor and 2-4 women mentees (postdocs and/or junior faculty). Junior faculty would be defined as assistant professors and/or non-tenured faculty members.
  • Mentors must hold PhDs in a STEM field.
  • MDs with a focus on research are qualified to apply. Junior faculty/postdocs and senior faculty cohorts do not have to be from the same scientific field, but cohorts with similar research interests are encouraged.
  • Cohorts must be located at the same or nearby universities in their countries of citizenship/permanent residency, and be able to meet regularly in person.
  • There will not be any travel funds provided to support cohort meetups, and videoconferencing is not encouraged.

Value of Award: 


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