Louise Woods, Gisèle Stephens-Chu, Katie Hyman

Insider View of the Revamped ArbitralWomen Parental Mentorship Programme

2 February, 2022

Since its kick-off session in December 2020, the revamped Parental Mentorship Programme, led by Board members Louise Woods, Gisèle Stephens-Chu and YAWP Steering Committee member Katie Hyman, has been holding group discussions by videoconference every two months. The forum is a support network for parents and prospective parents providing ArbitralWomen members with the opportunity to discuss the specific concerns and challenges of parenting while maintaining and developing an international arbitration career. The content of the discussions is confidential among meeting participants to encourage an open discussion and a free exchange of ideas.

The group meetings are small enough that each participant has an opportunity to share her individual experiences and provide a comfortable atmosphere to connect. Kathryn Siebke has attended several of the sessions and thoroughly enjoys the solidarity the programme provides. “As a mother of three and partner in a law firm, my life is a constant balancing act where I often feel that a barrier needs to be set between the two – those whom I work with should not be bothered with my obligations at home, and my family life should not be impacted by my career,” Kathryn Siebke commented. “Obviously this is not a feasible reality, even more so in these pandemic times. The Parental Mentorship Programme is a wonderful outlet to discuss the aspects of being a working mother that are unique to the international arbitration field, and offers support for those tough decisions that sometimes need to be made. It is also a pleasant networking opportunity in an informal setting to really get to know other working mothers around the world and the ways they have managed the work-life balance.”

Rikki Stern, who has also attended several of the sessions, highly recommends the programme. “The Parental Mentorship Programme is a unique forum in which participants can have honest conversations about the challenges of balancing a highly demanding profession with motherhood,” Rikki Stern explained. “The Programme allows participants to share creative solutions, and has debunked many of the myths as to what is required for success.” Stern notes that she “always leaves the sessions feeling inspired by the examples of the Programme’s participants, who are leading highly successful careers in international arbitration while also having a full family life.”

Another participant, Monika Prusinowska, has especially enjoyed a variety of perspectives offered by other Programme participants: “We all face similar challenges as working mothers, but we may also have different ways of approaching them. The exchange of experience among those attending the sessions has exposed me to a variety of solutions to the issues I currently cope with in terms of my professional and private life transition. It is often more difficult to see options just by yourself. I leave each session feeling inspired and simply stronger.”

Gisèle Stephens-Chu notes that “the programme allows women of different nationalities and cultural backgrounds to connect, share their experience and support each other. The challenges of parenting and pursuing a career in international arbitration are global, and there is much to learn from colleagues across the globe on how to raise children in the new normal.”

The next Parental Mentorship event will take place on 3 March 2022, at 9am GMT. For our next event, we welcome Dilber Devitre, who replaces Katie Hyman as YAWP Steering Committee member. Growing interest in the revamped Parental Mentoring Programme has increased the number of new ArbitralWomen members joining the organization, as the programme is only open to ArbitralWomen members.

If you are a member of ArbitralWomen and wish to participate or have suggestions on how to further optimise the programme, please reach out to Louise Woods, Gisèle Stephens-Chu or Dilber Devitre!

Co-Organisers of the ArbitralWomen Revamped Parental Mentorship Programme:

Louise Woods, Gisèle Stephens-Chu, Katie Hyman

Left to Right: Louise Woods, Gisèle Stephens-Chu, Katie Hyman