Over the past two decades, mentoring programmes have proved their effectiveness as a measure for addressing issues of gender inequality in higher education and research. Experience to date has shown these initiatives are key to providing efficient support structures for women pursuing academic or research-oriented careers. Another advantage is that through mentoring programmes, established women researchers can act effectively as role models and influence institutional change in favour of gender equality. The project 'Building a European network of academic mentoring programmes for women scientists' (Eument-net) set up a network of mentoring programmes with the ultimate aim of improving the position of women in science. The vision was to promote mentoring as an effective tool for boosting gender equality in academia and research. Efforts also focused on creating a base from which to improve on existing mentoring programmes in an evolving European Research Area (ERA). A major project outcome was a guideline manual titled 'Establishing mentoring in Europe. Strategies for the promotion of women academics and researchers' that offers guidelines and best practices for effective mentoring schemes for women academics in Europe. Based on the systematic comparison of the project's four mentoring programmes, project partners presented case studies and best practices related to the design, implementation and preparation of mentoring programmes under specific conditions. These are applicable at local, regional and national levels. Additionally, the manual offers a framework for how to connect mentoring schemes across Europe through the transnational network EUMENT-NET. The latter now exists in the form of a legal association. The Eument-net approach proved its worth regarding the transfer of expert knowledge on mentoring to countries that have yet to assume a mentoring scheme. This was evidenced by the interest shown by stakeholders in various countries seeking to enhance their status in this area. Project outcomes promise to be fruitful provided additional efforts are realised at European, regional and national levels.