Eleven projects have been launched at universities across the UK to improve equality, diversity and inclusion within engineering and the physical sciences.
The projects have been funded with £5.5 million from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) via the Inclusion Matters call, the first initiative of its kind launched as part of the collective approach by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) to promote equality, diversity and inclusion.
Dr Alison Wall, EPSRC's Associate Director, Building Leadership, said: “The Inclusion Matters call projects display ambition, creativity and a commitment to addressing the pressing equality and diversity issues facing engineering and the physical sciences. Through new research, innovative approaches and a broadening of activities, they will inform and shape significant cultural change across institutions and share their learning with the whole sector.”
One of the programmes is to be led by the University of Strathclyde. Joined by construction firm BAM Nuttall and the Scottish Research Partnership in Engineering, the project – STEM Equals – will develop a range of initiatives aimed at addressing challenges faced by female and LGBT staff in science and engineering. They include the introduction of free flexible crèche facilities for staff to attend key research meetings while on leave, workshops with key industry partners to disseminate successful activities and share best practice and the establishment of public and private social media platforms for female and LGBT staff within the University.
STEM Equals is being led by Strathclyde Vice-Principal Professor Scott MacGregor and the programme director is Professor Rebecca Lunn MBE, of the University’s Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering.
“There is a growing body of evidence demonstrating that women are discriminated against in Universities, and that the problem is particularly persistent across engineering and the sciences, said professor Lunn.
“For example, in 2012, a study was published where applications that had been randomly assigned a male or female name were rated for a Physics laboratory manager position. Recruitment panels rated the male applicant as significantly more competent and hireable than the identical female applicant.”
Details of the other projects can be found on the EPSRC inclusion matters web page.