FeRNet - Female Research Network

FeRNet enables female early-career researchers to exchange ideas with a person who has more academic experience and to build relationships beyond the boundaries of their own field and/or university. With the help of a mentoring relationship and an accompanying framework program, the female early-career researchers are encouraged to strategically plan and pursue their academic careers and to strengthen their self-image as academics. The establishment of formal and informal networks creates networking opportunities that promote an improved integration of female early-career researchers into their specific academic fields.

FeRNet is a tool to support female early-career researchers and their individual career paths with the aim of sustainably increasing the proportion of female researchers in the academic community. The program specifically targets all female advanced doctoral, post-doctoral, and Habilitation candidates who are pursuing an academic career and whose research project takes place at the University of Bamberg.

Please Note: We encourage everyone, regardless of German language skills, to participate in this program. While you are welcome to find a mentor who will work with you in English, the events and general correspondence of the program will mostly be conducted in German. For this reason, German proficiency is extremely beneficial, but we will do what we can to ensure that all participants get the most out of the program.

FeRNet funding rounds

The application deadline for the 8th round of FeRNet is Monday, 15 February 2021.

The 8th round of FeRNet starts in October 2021 and lasts until April 2023.

The flyer for the 7th round can be found here.(1.9 MB)


What is Mentoring?

The basic idea of mentoring is that a more experienced individual supports an often younger person and passes on their knowledge and experience. The mentor supports the mentee by drawing on their personal and professional experiences, giving advice, introducing them to their network, and helping them understand the workings and unwritten rules of institutions and organizations.

Going beyond a normal supervisor relationship, FeRNet allows the mentee to benefit from the experiences of their mentor through a personal relationship. That being said, both the mentor and mentee can benefit from a successful mentoring relationship, because a mentoring relationship offers a safe space for both parties to explore and reflect on career paths and possibilities.

Mentoring is not a new idea—the term mentor can be traced back to Greek mythology. Odysseus instructed his friend Mentor to look after and educate his son Telemachos during his absence.

Why Mentoring?

Even though educational differences between the sexes are hardly relevant anymore today, the gender ratio still noticeably shifts on the postgraduate, postdoc, and professorial level. There is an assumption that more women will automatically move up to higher levels of the hierarchy within their respective academic fields and especially at universities as the proportion of female students increases. However, this has not yet come true. Female early-career researchers need additional support in order to reach their goal of becoming a professor.

Many point to the systemic structures of the academic community as the reason for the clear underrepresentation of women in the upper levels of the academic hierarchy. It is not uncommon for female researchers to lack the necessary strategic support. Traditional social patterns and roles can hide the academic excellence of female early-career researchers. In addition to the phenomenon of homosociality (the fact that people like to surround themselves with people who resemble them), the difference in access between women and men to formal and informal networks has a negative impact on the career opportunities of women in academia.

For this reason, we are pursuing the goal of more effectively integrating female early-career researchers into formal networks using an institutionalized support system. As a tool for the strategic support of early-career researchers, mentoring is intended to encourage and motivate women to consistently pursue their academic careers.

About the Mentoring Relationship

The mentoring relationship involves a professor experienced in academia (mentor) and the sponsored early-career researcher (mentee). Contact between the two individuals is mediated by the program coordinators.

The mentoring relationship is built upon regular exchange—independent of the framework program—during the program period of 18 months. The intensity, form, location, and content of the meetings between the mentee and mentor are individually determined and agreed upon by the two participants. This is formally recorded in a mentoring agreement. Goals are defined at the beginning of the mentoring relationship during the first meeting. This way, important topics can be highlighted in advance and deepened during later discussions. Specific offers of support may also be mentioned.

Framework Programme

In addition to the mentoring relationship, FeRNet funds a seminar program for female early-career researchers that is geared toward individual career planning and career advancement. The program consists of coaching events and career training. These workshops normally take place during the two weeks prior to the start of lectures. Additional networking events take place to build relationships among the mentees and to give them an opportunity to network within the university and wider academia.

Find here the supporting programme for the 7th round. (Intranet connection required)(280.4 KB)

The program coordinator will happily accept additional event proposals from participants.

Eligibilty Requirements for Mentees

The applicant: 

  • is a doctoral candidate with at least one year of research activity, a postdoc, or a Habilitation candidate who is pursuing an academic career
  • is working on a research project based at the University of Bamberg  
  • is willing to actively work toward an academic career
  • will participate in the framework program
  • is willing to network with other researchers and scholars
  • will provide regular feedback to the program coordinators
  • will take on an active role in the mentoring process


Early-career researches can apply with a written application. The application deadline for the 8th round is expected to be in the winter semester of 2020/21. The written application should either be mailed to the Women's Office or sent in PDF format via email to mentoring.frauenbeauftragte(at)uni-bamberg.de.

The written application must include the following elements:

  • cover letter (incl. motivation for participation and desired goals), approx. 1-2 pages
  • data entry form for mentee (the template can be found here)(207.7 KB)
  • tabular CV (with research focus and list of publications)
  • brief description of the current scientific project (topic, tasks and goals, work schedule, research methods, preliminary results, approx. 1-2 pages)
  • proof of admission to doctoral studies at the University of Bamberg, e.g. by notification of admission to doctoral studies, copy of the supervision contract or registration in the doctoral student database of the University of Bamberg (if applicable).
  • OR confirmation from the department or faculty that the requirements for admission to the Habilitation program have been fulfilled (if applicable).

As part of the application process, applicants will be given the opportunity to make suggestions for mentors.

Applicants will receive written notification of whether or not they have been accepted into the program.

Coordination of the Programme

Alena Stephan
Janina Dillig (currently on maternity leave)


Kapuzinerstr. 18, room 02.03
96045 Bamberg

Phone: (09 51) 8 63 - 12 88 (via interpreter)
Fax: (09 51) 8 63 - 42 44
E-Mail: mentoring.frauenbeauftragte(at)uni-bamberg.de


Am I obliged to participate in the FeRNet information event? Does participation improve my chances of being considered for the program?

Participation in the information event is not a prerequisite for applying to the FeRNet program. It does not increase your chances of placement in the mentoring program, but it does make it easier for you to apply.

Unfortunately, I am less than satisfied with the supervision of my dissertation by my professor at the University of Bamberg. Through participation in the FeRNet mentoring program, can I possibly get another supervisor to take over the academic supervision of my dissertation?

This is not possible. Your supervisor remains the central contact person for the academic supervision of your dissertation.

What documents do I have to include with my application?

Please enclose FeRNet's application form, a short statement of motivation, a CV, and a list of your publications with your application.

What is the scope of the statement of motivation?

The letter should not exceed 1 to 2 pages and should express a clear goal and motivation regarding your intended academic career and your desire to participate in the mentoring program.

Can I also choose a man as my mentor or do I have to choose a woman?

You are free to choose your mentor based on your preferences and individual needs. The FeRNet concept welcomes mentoring by mentors of all genders.

It is not in my best interest for my supervisor to know that I am participating in the FeRNet program. Am I obliged to inform them about my participation?

 It is up to you to decide whether you inform your supervisor about your participation in the program.

Forum Mentoring e. V.

FeRNet, the mentoring program of the University Women's Representatives of the University of Bamberg, is a member of Forum Mentoring e. V.—a nationwide association—and supports its high-quality standards in mentoring.