Diversity at the Royal Society


The Royal Society is concerned with excellent science wherever and by whomever it is done. We are committed to promoting diversity in UK science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and medicine by seeking to increase participation from underrepresented groups.

The Society actively promotes and increases diversity through:

  • Leading the Way: Increasing diversity in the scientific workforce, a project to investigate ways to remove barriers to entry and progression to the scientific workforce, which focuses on gender, ethnicity, disability and socio-economic status
  • The Vision project, which aims to set out a vision for how the UK can develop an inspiring and high performing science and mathematics system over the next 15-20 years
  • The Dorothy Hodgkin Fellowship scheme for excellent scientists in the UK at an early stage of their career who require a flexible working pattern due to personal circumstances such as parenting or caring responsibilities or health issues
  • The Rosalind Franklin Award and Lecture which is made to support the promotion of women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

The Society’s Equality and Diversity Advisory Network (EDAN) regularly monitors statistics on diversity across the Society’s activities and spearheads necessary improvements. Our Education Committee advises Council on matters relating to education at all levels.


Equality of opportunity is a fundamental part of civilised society and no individual should be unfairly prevented from engaging in education, training, or careers related to science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and medicine (STEMM). A lack of diversity across the scientific community also represents a large loss of potential talent to the UK. Restricted opportunity and diversity limits not only UK competitiveness and prosperity, but also vitality in the wider scientific workforce and creativity in society.

The Society strives to increase diversity in science across groups with ‘protected characteristics’ (these are listed in the Equality Act 2010): age, disability, gender reassignment, pregnancy and maternity, marriage and civil partnership, race, religion or belief, sex, and sexual orientation.

Individuals from lower socio-economic backgrounds, certain ethnic minorities, women, and disabled people are all currently under-represented within STEMM education and training and the scientific workforce. There is less information available regarding representation from other protected characteristics but it is anticipated that good practice can be translated across groups and championed as of benefit to all.

We work closely with other academies including the Academy of Medical Sciences, Institute of Physics, London Mathematical Society, Royal Society of Chemistry, Royal Academy of EngineeringSociety of Biology and the Wellcome Trust.

Diversity Matters blog

We link to interesting posts about diversity in science on our blog.

Working with others

We provide the secretariat for:

  • Athena Forum, which advances the cause of women in higher education and research in the fields of science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine
  • STEM Disability Committee, which provides support for actual and aspiring disabled students, their teachers and for disabled workers in science, technology, engineering and maths