Government inquiry into diversity and STEM

Do science funding policies and cultures prevent UK science from attracting a diverse community of people? A parliamentary inquiry into this question will be taken forward by the government thanks to the work of a Trinity College alumna.

The diversity in STEM proposal was led by Trinity alumna Rachel Oliver (1996), now a professor of materials science at Cambridge, with the support of 203 signatories, including 15 Oxford University scientists.

The inquiry is one of four to be taken forward by the House of Commons Science and Technology Select Committee following an open call using the hashtag #MyScienceInquiry. The call invited the scientific community and members of the public to suggest ideas and areas of concern that they believed would benefit from a rigorous inquiry by the Committee.

The proposal led by Professor Oliver called for an inquiry into the extent to which funding policies, procedures and cultures are marginalising and excluding scientists from underrepresented groups, adding that the issue has the potential to threaten creativity and productivity in the UK STEMM community. A diverse group of over 200 signatories working within academia, industry and science communication came together to support the proposal.

The pitch was successful and the Committee have now pledged to launch the inquiry within the next 12 months.

Professor Oliver said: ‘The lack of diversity in STEMM shrinks the available pool of talent and ideas and hence limits the excellence of our research. I suggested the #MyScienceInquiry looks at equality, diversity, inclusion and accessibility in the research funding ecosystem because funding is hugely influential in controlling the research career pipeline, and so has a big influence on diversity in STEMM.

‘I’m delighted that this proposal was chosen by the select committee. The pitch I made was developed by a team of scientists from across the UK, working together to get our point across. The success of our pitch just shows how powerful diverse teams can be.’

Posted: 21 March  2019

Read more

Further news