"There's an article in that very same issue describing how the NSF and NIH have included new instructions to grant applicants regarding their duty to "mentor" postdocs. I'm surprised you didn't pick up on that."
WOW. What an arrogant comment! Of course I picked up on that.
I didn't mention it because it's meaningless lipservice.
Or were you hoping to see me rant about why it's meaningless lipservice? Here's the rant.
There's no way to enforce that anyone actually does any kind of mentoring at the grant level. It would be more appropriate to build it into departmental-level teaching requirements and tenure review.
Grad programs should evaluate mentors and prevent exceptionally bad ones from getting new students.
Departments should have similar mechanisms for preventing exceptionally bad mentors from getting postdocs.
Along with this might be a rule for limiting the size of labs, since nobody can juggle 20+ students and postdocs and actually mentor them all.
Note that I said exceptionally bad, not just bad, since most PIs suck at mentoring, so far as I can tell.
You could argue that it's not really their fault, they don't know any better, and nobody trains them in mentoring skills.
Gosh, maybe mentorship training should be a requirement for PIs and departments to get grants and accreditation?? There's an idea.
Except that it would probably be about as useful and unwanted as sexual harassment training. Where I work, the institution of annual sexual harassment training just goaded the smarmy PIs to really show off that they know how far they can push it without getting sued.
And while these kinds of things do serve the purpose of informing students and postdocs that they theoretically have the right to complain, it drives home the point that nobody can save your career if you do, even if you're legally protected from backlash.
For sexual harassment, that is. There is no legal protection for backlash from complaining about a total lack of mentorship!
No, this business about writing a section on mentoring is just like what they already do with postdoctoral fellowships.
You can write all kinds of nonsense about the career development activities, yada yada, but so long as you write the correct things in the box, nobody cares if they don't actually exist or your PI won't actually let you do them.
For example, you or your PI can write that there are teaching opportunities, and that makes it look like you're in a good "training environment." It doesn't mean you'll get to teach even one lecture as a postdoc.
The only measure that might make a difference is if NIH and NSF include some kind of bonus points for people who have placed many former postdocs in faculty positions, which they do unofficially already for fellowships. But if they did that officially for all grants, it extends even more favors to senior PIs and unfairly penalizes young PIs. So that isn't a good policy, either.
I'm 100% certain this is exactly the same thing. It's a bureaucratic bandaid, nothing more.