Society welcomes launch of inquiry into equity in the STEM workforce

The All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Diversity and Inclusion in STEM has launched its second inquiry into Equity in the STEM workforce. The Society is proud to be a sponsor of this APPG and we are looking forward to supporting it as the inquiry develops.

The inquiry will focus on how the Government and organisations employing STEM workers are helping to create diverse and inclusive environments. It will bring together evidence on the UK’s STEM workforce and provide recommendations to enable individuals and communities that are currently underrepresented within STEM to flourish and progress, and to ensure that STEM careers are more equitable and accessible to all.

To coincide with the launch of the inquiry, the APPG published a data analysis brief on the diversity and representation in the STEM workforce as it stood in 2019. Some key findings included: 65% of the STEM workforce are white men. Proportionally, white women are less likely to be STEM workers than ethnic minority women: 10% of white female workers are in STEM, compared to 13% of ethnic minority female workers. The STEM workforce has a lower share of female workers (27% vs. 52%) and disabled people (11% vs. 14%) than the rest of the workforce.

The inquiry is particularly interested in the following questions:

1. What are the demographics of STEM workers in your organisation or sector? Are there gaps in the quality of evidence, monitoring or reporting?

2. Where is there inequity across the different protected characteristics and how are different communities impacted across different:

  • STEM disciplines or sector/subsectors
  • types of organisation (e.g. private, public, non-profit)
  • type of STEM activity (e.g. academic research, education, engagement, commercial, funding)
  • job levels and/or qualification.
3. Where are there evidenced inclusive behaviours and policies within different organisations, subsectors, sectors, and countries on:
  • Recruitment; and/or
  • Retention
4. Are there policies or activities undertaken by the UK Government, or its agencies, that advance or inhibit equity and inclusive cultures within the STEM workforce?
  • Where could policy change or sector action lead to addressing the equity of opportunity within the UK’s STEM workforce?
5. What are the impacts of COVID-19 on equity for STEM workers (including job and income security, contract type etc) in the short- and medium-term? Which communities, groups, organisations, or sectors are being most impacted?

6. What are the implications and opportunities of new policies and employer action in the next 5-10 years following COVID-19 and Brexit? What will the future impacts be for communities, groups, organisations, or sectors?

Dr Anna Zecharia, Director of Policy and Public Affairs, said:

Our society will be in a better position to meet, and define, health and social challenges if a broad range of people are involved in research and decision-making. Being proactive about establishing an equitable workforce that is attractive to, and respectful of, people from any background is crucial if we are to create systemic change. I hope this inquiry will deepen our understanding of the problem, but perhaps more importantly, yield practical insights as we develop solutions. The Society is pleased to be working with and supporting this APPG as part of progressing our strategic commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion, as outlined in our recently published Vision.

We encourage our membership and the wider community to give evidence, for more information, please visit the APPG website. The deadline for submitting written evidence is 17.00 on Friday 29 January 2021. If you would like to discuss the inquiry further, please email Sophia McCully (Policy Officer).

As we continue to develop in this area, the work and views of our valued members are crucial in informing our thinking and ensuring we are being inclusive in all that we do. We value your input and ask that you please send us a short description of your research and work related to diversity and inclusion in pharmacology, healthcare and research. We are keen to provide a platform and showcase your work at our annual meeting, Pharmacology 2020, 14-18 December 2020.

Published: 11 Nov 2020 in Society news