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Policy projects

Leading the way: increasing diversity in the scientific workforce

Image credit: Rob Judges

“We must have an environment in which all scientists, including those from previously underrepresented groups, have an equal chance to excel. There is a way to go but I feel that this new programme is an important step in creating a richer and more diverse scientific workforce.”

Paul Nurse, President, Royal Society

The Royal Society and the Royal Academy of Engineering are funded by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) to run a programme of work aimed to address the issue of diversity in the STEM workforce. There are a number of areas of overlap including comprehensive data gathering, pilot activities, and providing positive and accessible role models.

The Society’s diversity programme ‘Leading the way: Increasing Diversity in the Scientific Workforce’ ran from 2011 to 2015 and investigated ways to remove barriers to entry, retention and progression within the scientific workforce. It focused on gender, ethnicity, disability and socio-economic status and background and aimed to cultivate leadership in the scientific community towards removing barriers to increased diversity. The Society’s programme particularly focused on individuals making key career transitions, for example from further education to university or to the workforce or from one level within the workforce to another.

Projects under the programme included our Inspiring Scientists: Diversity in British Science and I wasn’t always a scientist projects, the publication of two large research reports A picture of the scientific workforce and Diversity in STEMM: Establishing a business case, support for the Athena SWAN Charter, a number of events and activities and supporting and providing the secretariat for the Athena Forum and STEMM Disability Advisory Committee.

Building on the achievements of the four year BIS-funded STEM Diversity Programme 2011-2015 the Society has developed a new Diversity Strategy which sets out, for 2015-2018, how the Royal Society will use its convening power and leadership, in partnership with others, to increase diversity in STEM and build a more inclusive scientific community. Read more about the Society’s diversity activities.