There are growing numbers of PhD students internationally, and these students are more diverse (gender, age, ethnicity) than previously, and there is an increasing formalization of the PhD process to facilitate standardization internationally. Consequently, there is a growing trend towards PhD education as an institutional responsibility, with supervision as a specialized pedagogy which involves the development of transferable skills and competences in addition to research and the production of knowledge.
Thus the demands on supervisors are greater and this toolkit is a response to calls from PhD supervisors for training to deal with these additional and complex demands, as well as suggestions by supervisors and students for a positive supervision culture.
The primary objective of this Toolkit is to create awareness of the way gender affects supervisory relationships and to minimize the negative effect of gendered interactional patterns. There is a growing body of international evidence which demonstrates that women within science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) have more negative experiences of PhD education and consequently are more likely to leave academia.
However, based on the evidence that a higher degree of transparency allows for good working conditions and possibilities to develop for everyone, the focus and tools presented here will not exclusively benefit women, but hopefully all PhD students regardless of gender, age, cultural background, race, ethnicity or any other distinguishing characteristic.
As a PhD student you are entitled to PhD supervision that will facilitate your achievement of your PhD and the development of transferable skills. Even if this toolkit is written primarily with the PhD supervisor in mind, this resource also can also provide you as a PhD student ideas on many issues which commonly arise in the PhD process. For instance concerning expectations, feedback, communication and meetings. There are also tips on how to practice writing, and how to handle returning after leave, and even if these are presented here as recommendations for supervisors, feel free to turn them around and make them your own.
We hope that you will find it to be of practical use to you.