Towards the end of our PhDs, we were sat making our way through a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc in the sunshine reminiscing about our PhD experiences. We got on to discussing how great it had been to recently connect with some amazing and awe-inspiring women working in the development field, and how we wish we’d had them in our lives from the beginning of our PhD journey.
Meeting with such women provided us with grounding experiences, reassuring us that what we were researching was at least very interesting if not useful, buoying our confidence, and helping us keep sight of the bigger picture. During the dark days mid-PhD when everything seemed pointless, we received some fantastic advice, outside perspectives, and of course, that ever welcome solidarity! We realised that a simple and effective way to provide the same opportunity for other PhD students would be to connect them directly.
We had both also been part of a conference organised by the Researchers in Development Network (RiDNet) at the University of Leeds earlier in the academic year. The conference focused on whether research makes a difference in development and how to bridge the gaps between research, policy, and practice. One of the solutions discussed was to increase the communication between researchers and practitioners/policy makers. A mentoring scheme that directly connects a new generation of researchers to those working in development practice would also be a start in creating these relationships.
We did some brainstorming there and then, and WOMID began.