Cath Waller writes at Nature's SpotOn blog that she recently attended an ecology workshop that had a program to connect female mentors and mentees. She applied to be both, but was told there was no one to mentor her — that there are always more mentee applications than there are mentors. "I think this says something about how we see ourselves as female scientists," she writes. "We understand the power of networking and are keen to learn from our peers but we don't always have the confidence to put ourselves 'out there,' even when it is in the relatively safe environment of offering support to other women in a similar scientific discipline."
Waller adds that female scientists can avail themselves of tools like LinkedIn and Twitter to grow their online presence and develop confidence in expressing themselves. In addition, such tools also allow researchers to be mentors to far-flung mentees. "My mentee is located almost 400 miles away so we are exploring the use of online tools to create a strong communication framework. Hopefully I can then, in some way, help her to avoid the insecurities I have dealt with and offer support as she develops her career," she adds.