Improving diversity in STEM: MPs launch inquiry
22 November 2021
The science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) sector provides millions of careers in academia and industry across the UK. Research shows that these opportunities are not equally distributed across society—within the sector, a lack of diversity is apparent, with underrepresentation from ethnic minority groups, those from lower socioeconomic backgrounds, people with disabilities and women.
Today, the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee launches a new inquiry, Diversity in STEM, which will investigate the extent of underrepresentation amongst those working in STEM, and ask what policies the Government, industry and academia could use to address it. The cross-party group of MPs will explore the implications that a lack of diversity in STEM has for the UK’s science and technology sectors, and ask how effective measures taken to improve diversity within the field have been thus far.
In recent years The Royal Society has recognised the problem of an underrepresentation in STEM, commissioning its Diversity Committee to undertake research into supporting scientists from ethnic minority backgrounds, and scientists with disabilities. In November 2020 evidence to the Science and Technology Committee, UKRI Chief Executive Dame Ottoline Leyser emphasised the importance of diversity in research and innovation, stating that people with 'different ideas and different backgrounds' needed to come together to make 'extraordinary things happen'.
The Committee will explore how policymakers, funding bodies, industry and academia can work to address issues identified during the course of the inquiry.
The Committee is seeking written submissions by Friday 14 January 2022 addressing any or all of the following topics:
- The nature or extent to which women, ethnic minorities, people with disabilities and those from disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds are underrepresented in STEM in academia and industry;
- The reasons why these groups are underrepresented;
- The implications of these groups being underrepresented in STEM roles in academia and industry;
- What has been done to address underrepresentation of particular groups in STEM roles; and
- What could and should be done by the UK Government, UK Research and Innovation, other funding bodies, industry and academia to address the issues identified.