The aim of this project was to design and set up a mentoring scheme, the first of its
kind within the industry, that meets the needs of women professionals.
The partner organizations recognized the need for mentoring support
for their professional female employees, alongside existing mentoring
schemes, and the need to work closely with the academic community
to achieve this.
Our Founding Members
The innovative and formative partnership between the Royal Aeronautical Society, Airbus, the Royal Air Force and the University of the West of England, has allowed us to identify critical areas for the development of women and to co-design a mentoring scheme that will help to address the under-development of women’s mentoring in our industry. It also contributes to the development of joint ventures between academia and industry, to find solutions to the issue of the current skills shortage in various professions across the industry as well as the retention of key talent. Achieving gender balance and offering opportunities for the industry workforce to achieve its full potential is viewed by the partners in this project as a strategic strength
The academic project
Alta is an evolving and unique knowledge exchange network which draws upon the knowledge and expertise of academics, professionals, senior managers and female professionals and is underpinned by academic research to ascertain, review and analyse what professional women are looking for from an industry-wide mentoring scheme.
The academic part of the project involved the distribution of a survey and interviews and focus groups with just over two hundred and fifty female professionals and key stakeholders within the industry. This enabled the UWE team to critically analyse current best practice, consider how the mentoring scheme could be designed to meet the needs of female professionals, deliver training to mentors and mentees and measure the impact of the mentoring scheme over a period of time.
The research revealed that there was a need for a woman-only mentoring scheme, based upon systematic matching and supported by bespoke training. Through focus groups, which were based upon ‘action research’, we worked with women to design the alta mentoring scheme, based upon their expressed preferences. Interviews enabled us to explore the key criteria for alta, from the interviewee’s perspective, and to help us to understand the amount and quality of mentoring received, to date, by these women. It became clear that many women were not given the opportunity to be mentored and for those who were, experiences of being mentored were mixed. The survey, distributed to women throughout the industry, helped us to understand some key criteria around what women specifically looked for from mentoring as well as their experience as mentors. This research has enabled us to understand professional women’s past and current mentoring experiences and how we can improve these experiences through alta.
The UWE team continue to work closely with the partners in this project to monitor progress and measure impact.
Alta Phase 2
In 2018, the partners signed a new agreement to begin work on a full roll-out of alta with a new platform which provides further tools for alta mentors and mentees to manage their mentoring relationship online in a safe environment. Working with mentoring platform specialist, Perform Learn Develop, we are creating a new, easy-to-use online system to go live in October 2018.
In addition to the platform, alta networking events and further research will continue to feature with the alta programme.We are grateful to the support of Rockwell Collins and a private donor to enable the new development work to take place.