There is evidence to suggest that women, certain ethnic minorities, people with disabilities and those from disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds are underrepresented in education, training and employment related to STEM. While there is significant variation in rates of progression and outcomes across ethnic minority groups, research shows that ethnic minority staff and students have consistently poorer outcomes than white staff and students. There is also variation within ethnic minorities. Recent data from the APPG on Diversity and Inclusion in STEM show that 65% of the STEM workforce are white men and that, proportionally, white women are less likely to be STEM workers than ethnic minority women. Further, the percentage of academic staff with a known disability is lower for staff working in STEM than non-STEM, and 2020 data analysis from the APPG on Diversity and Inclusion in STEM found that disabled people of all ethnicities are underrepresented in the STEM workforce.
While there is comparatively less data on the socioeconomic background of the STEM workforce a 2014 Royal Society report found that it does have a strong effect on an individual’s likelihood of entering the scientific workforce.
The importance of diversity amongst the research community has been acknowledged by UK Research and Innovation’s Chief Executive, Dame Ottoline Leyser, who said: “high-quality research and innovation needs diversity. You have to have people with different ideas and different backgrounds coming together to create the kind of environment where extraordinary things happen”.
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