Equality, diversity and inclusion

Science should be open to everyone, without barriers that prevent people from reaching their full potential. A scientific community that is as diverse and inclusive as possible can only improve what it is able to achieve.

Why does diversity and inclusion matter for science?

Diversity is an essential part of the Royal Society’s mission to recognise, promote and support excellence in science, and to encourage the development and use of science for the benefit of humanity. A diverse and inclusive scientific community that brings together the widest range of talents, backgrounds, perspectives and experiences, maximises scientific innovation and creativity, as well as the competitiveness of the UK scientific industry. 

Yet, the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) sector in this country is not as diverse as it could be as shown in many reports including those commissioned by the Royal Society (link to data reports). We want science education and careers to be open to all and to create a research and innovation sector that is inclusive and welcoming.

As the UK’s national academy of science, engineering, technology, and mathematics (‘STEM’), the Society is committed to increasing diversity in science by embedding diversity and inclusion into its activities and organisational culture, and by encouraging the participation of excellent scientists from under-represented groups in the wider research community. 

The Royal Society actively monitors diversity across its own activities and publishes an annual data report to help track progress. 

The Royal Society is a self-governing Fellowship made up of the most eminent scientists, engineers and technologists in the world. Fellows and Foreign Members are elected for life through a peer review process on the basis of excellence in science. 

The Society’s Fellowship is not diverse, reflecting the pool of scientific leaders over the past decades. Currently, only 12% of the Society’s Fellows are women. In recent years, many more women and researchers from underrepresented groups have been elected to the Fellowship but the Society recognises that more needs to be done. We are currently under way on a package of reforms to the election process, which will aim to encourage more nominations to the Fellowship from researchers underrepresented in science.

We continue to look for ways to ensure that our grant funding is inclusive, considering the entire journey from promotion through to application, awards and post award activities.

Alongside the work looking at our overall grant funding, the Society has recently initiated a pilot fellowship programme aimed at researchers from underrepresented groups, with the first call aimed at researchers with black heritage. Find out more about the Career Development Fellowships.

Alongside the work we do to promote better diversity amongst the Fellowship and those we fund, we want to ensure that the Society is a place which is welcoming and inclusive for everyone who works here or is interested in working at the Society. Find out about some of our staff initiatives here.

The Society’s Diversity and Inclusion team support the Diversity and Inclusion Committee to deliver a programme of work that encourages greater participation in science from people from underrepresented groups. These activities range from mentoring programmes with young people to the commissioning of reports that highlight areas of underrepresentation and recommendations for the sector to campaigns that celebrate the achievements of people from minority or disadvantaged groups.  

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