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Inclusion at the British Pharmacological Society

Published: 17 Aug 2018
Category: Equality, diversity and inclusion
By Lisa Hevey

The first objective set out in the Society’s new five-year strategy for 2018-2022, which launched at the end of 2017, is “To remove barriers to participation and success, while welcoming equality and celebrating diversity, and being inclusive in all we do”.

The issue of representation – be it socioeconomic, gender or ethnicity – is an ongoing challenge within pharmacology, and the science community more widely.

Where the Society has been able to redress the balance swiftly, however, it has done so. We now collect much more granular information on gender and identity through our new member database, and that information has helped us to improve our diversity policies. In tandem with Council, where equality and diversity is a standing agenda item, the Women in Pharmacology Advisory Group has worked hard to ensure we have a good gender balance across all of our committees. Where a longer-term commitment is needed we are presently working to identify the challenges and lay the foundations for change. Our report, ‘Pharmacology Education and Employment Pathways’ , identified that:

58% of pharmacology students are women

and that this high percentage continues on into the early years of training, PhD and postdoctoral research. However, the subsequent decline in number is a concern. The Society offers bursaries for childcare while members attend our meetings and is also available a bespoke career break membership, but to address the root cause of the problem will take longer.

In light of the Society’s new strategic objectives for the next five years, the Society has reviewed its approach to widening participation, equality, diversity and inclusion. The Women in Pharmacology Advisory Group was consulted and supported the investment of resources and time into the establishment of a new mechanism to embed the broader scope of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) at the Society.

The Society will be seeking advice externally from an expert individual and/or organisation who has led similar change to guide this process and to ensure that the Society starts from a position of best practice in this area, and the best way to approach monitoring and decision making in the future.

It is an exciting time for the Society as we begin implementing our new EDI strategy. Rest assured that women in pharmacology will remain a significant focus of this new group and a priority for the Society. We will be sharing further details, including how to get involved, in a communication to all members in due course.

Our commitment to improving equality and diversity

The Society will make every effort to increase diversity within its leadership and governance structures, its membership, and its professional development activities.

  • Throughout all of its charitable objectives the Society will articulate gender and ethnic diversity as a core value and highlight its importance to pharmacology at every level.
  • Society management and participation in Society initiatives should reflect the gender and ethnic diversity breakdown of the membership.
  • The Society will provide opportunities for and support of professional development for women and minorities.

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About the author

Teesha Bhuruth

Teesha works within the Education, Engagement and Policy team at the Society. Teesha works with other staff and members to develop and nurture the Society’s relationships with its growing membership, potential members, stakeholders, Ambassadors and members of the public.

Teesha graduated with a First Class BSc in Biomedical Sciences from the University of Southampton. Her Technical Support and Field Sales Representative roles for laboratory specialists Anachem Ltd (Mettler Toledo) were followed by a year as Employment Contracts Officer for University College London. She enjoys, and has experience of, engaging a wide range of audiences in support of the Society’s strategic objectives, and acts as the primary contact for groups and networks in the pharmacology community.

Lisa Hevey

Lisa graduated from the University of Sheffield with a BA in Sociology before studying for an MA in Sociology (Research) at the Sorbonne (Paris IV). She has worked in the Higher Education sector for several years in addition to teaching English as a foreign language for many years. She previously worked at the Equality Challenge Unit and the Medical Schools Council as a Policy Officer where her work focused on selection methods used for those applying to medicine and widening participation.