Written Evidence Submitted by the British Heart Foundation (BHF)

(DIV0091)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 


Key Points

 

recruitment and retention for STEM roles, which will help to tackle the current UK STEM skills shortage. Government should:

targets and guidance for the sector on how to tackle the issues that have been identified, e.g., bullying and harassment, and disparities in grant funding award rates.


l.  We welcome the opportunity to contribute to the 'Diversity in STEM' inquiry by the House of Commons Science and  Technology Committee. Our response draws on data pertaining to the academic STEM research workforce and focusses on evidence of ethnic/racial and gender inequalities.  It is important  to note that the focus on these protected characteristics is not a reflection of the relevant importance that the BHF places on them, but rather indicative of the quality and accessibility of currently available data. We also include recommendations aimed at achieving equality of opportunity and highlight relevant best practice from across the sector.

 

2. To note, while the BHF strives to use language that is sensitive, accurate, and specific, and tries to avoid using general and aggregate terms, including Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic (BAME) or Black and Minority Ethnic (BME), there are still times where we need to use these terms, as we have throughout this response, when we are quoting statistics that have defined ethnicity.

 

Topic l: 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.

This              section              is focussed              on              evidence              of              racial/ethnic              and              gender              inequalities              and underrepresentation, within the STEM workforce. As noted in the introduction, the focus on these protected characteristics is due to the quality and accessibility of currently available data. The scarcity of widely reported consistent data against other protected characteristics and diversity identifiers is a major concern that hinders policy development and limits progress in tackling inequalities in the STEM workforce.

 

Racial/ethnic inequality

 

Within the 2011 Census,2 the ethnicity breakdown of the working age population (age 16 to 64 years) across England and Wales was as follows: 5.1% identified as 'Asian', 3.4% as 'Black', 1.5% as 'Mixed', 55.6% as 'White' and 1.1% as 'Other'. While these data are lO years old and do not include Scotland and Northern Ireland, they will beuseful to contextualise the evidence presented within this section. By 2031, Black and  minority ethnic  populations are estimated to make up 15% of the population in England and 37% of the population in London.3

 

 

Representation in the academic STEM workforce

 

While there has been a focus on widening access for students in recent years, researchers from Black and minority ethnic backgrounds continue to be underrepresented at PhD and senior academic levels. 2021 student data from Advance HE4 show that while BAME representation remains relatively high among first degree Science, Engineering and Technology (SET) undergraduates and taught postgraduates (25% Q59,370 of 677,050] and 26% [33,200 of 125,515], respectively), at postgraduate research level (typically lab-based study), this falls to 19% BAME students (7,435 of 39,300) and 3.4% Black students (1,335 of 39,000).

 

 

 


2 Gov.uk, Working age population, 2020

3 The King's Fund, Demography: future trends, 2011

4 Advance HE, Equality in higher education: Statistical Report 2021- Data Tables, 2021


The Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) also published its annual report providing a breakdown  of the  UK's academic  workforce.5 Data for the 2019-20 academic year reveal that, of the more than 23,000 university Professors in the UK, only 155 (<1%) are Black. This figure has remained below 1% for the past 5 years and, even during that time, progress has been slow - the number of Black Professors only increased by 50 posts while the overall number of Professorships rose by almost 3,000 over the same period. Among the 223,525 members of academic staff in the UK, 4,725 (2%) are Black, 22,055 (10%) are Asian, 167,405 (75%) are White, with the remainder come under categories of "mixed", "other" or "not known".

 

In December 2021, The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) published its first diversity data report6 for its health and social care research funding programmes. The report found that 9.1% of Professors and senior investigators (the most senior positions) in receipt of NIHR funding had an ethnic minority background. Meanwhile, 16% of funded post-doctoral researchers (the most junior position) had an ethnic minority background.

Lack of diversity is also evident among elected STEM Fellowships (awards granted to individuals who have made a substantial contribution to their field). As of 2015-19, only one7 of the Academy of Medical Sciences' (AMS) 1129 elected Fellows has been Black, since its formation in 1995. And despite recent commitments to increase diversity at the Royal Society, in 2015, its Diversity Data Report'5 highlighted that just 29 (5%) of its Fellows and 'Foreign Members' who  completed the survey were Black and minority ethnic. The loss of Black and minority ethnic representation with academic progression has been dubbed the "Broken Pipeline".9

 

Individual accounts of discrimination against Black researchers are increasingly achieving mainstream media attention in the UK. In a 2021 report for the BBC, Dr Jazmin Scarlett, a student in volcanology who received a distinction in her masters and a prestigious President's medal from the Royal Geological Society, shared that she received more than 30 rejections for full-time research posts in the year after graduation. Feedback she received included being told that although she was academically qualified, she "would not fit in". In the interview, Dr Scarlett acknowledged that getting a  job in academia was not easy, but  suspected her race was a factor in the rejections. Christopher Jackson, a geoscience Professor at Manchester University, faced similar challenges during his career and told BBC News that he believed that publicly funded academic research in the UK, is "definitely institutionally racist".70 These are two of many more accounts of racism and discrimination in academia which severely impact diversity in STEM by locking out key talent from the sector. It is important to listen to and actively involve people who are facing discrimination, in addition to analysing quantitative  data -  this is essential for gaining the broadest possible understanding of the issues at hand and for developing solutions that make a meaningful difference to those affected.

 

 

Gender inequality

 

Representation in the STEM workforce

 


5 Higher Education Standards Agency, HE staff by HE provider 2014175 to 2019/20, 2020

6 National Institute for Health Research, Diversity Data Report, 2021

7 The Academy of Medical Sciences, Annual Diversity Report 2018179, 2019

8 Royal Society, Diversity Data Report, 2015

9 Leading Routes, The Broken Pipeline: Barriers to Black PhD Students Accessing Research Council Funding, 2019

10 BBC News, Black scientists say UK research is institutionally racist, 2021


As with race and ethnicity, there is evidence of gender disparity the more senior and experienced STEM roles become. 2021 Advance HE student data77show that across the UK, 52% offirst-degree SET undergraduate students are female. Representation is also high among female SET postgraduate  students (57%). However, this figure falls to 46% for research postgraduates, and even further for early year and senior academic roles; just 43% of the UK Higher  Education academic SET workforce and 23% of full-time SET Professors are female (2021 Advance HE staff data).12 Data for Fellows also follow this trend: only 20% of AMS Fellows are female13 and, in 2019, The Royal Society reported that just 10% of its Fellows were women (170 of 1,656).14

The 2021 NIHR report_also found that women are underrepresented at senior career levels, only making up 40.6% of NIHR senior investigators and 42.3% of Professors. By contrast, women made up 63.4% of the more junior post-doctoral level15.

There is significant gender disparity in the cardiology field. Although half of all UK medical students are female, only 25% of cardiology trainees and 13% of cardiology consultants, who are essential for conducting NHS clinical research, are women,16 a picture that has remained the same for 15 years. In academia, there are currently no cardiovascular research specific data, a gap that needs to be filled.

The gender inequalities in the research workforce have been reflected in authorship on research publications. According to Nature's 2017 study of 1.5 million research papers, female  first authorship (i.e., the researcher who contributed most to the work, typically the Pl) was seen in just 40% of papers.17 This value falls considerably for authorship in higher-impact  journals  (as measured by their impact factors). Across six high-impact medical journals (Annals of Internal Medicine, Archives of Internal Medicine, The British Medical journal, the journal of the American Medical Association, The Lancet, and the New England journal of Medicine) over the past 20 years worldwide, only 34% of articles had a female first author.75 Further, in two  of the world's leading journals, Nature and Science, women accounted for just 25% of first authors and 15% of senior (last-author) spots in papers published between 2005 and 2017.19 The same research highlighted a negative association between the number  of  female  first  and  last authors  and journal impact factor across the 15 journals observed.20 In the UK, between 2014 and  2017, just 30% of publications from British universities listed women as authors, up  slightly  from  26% between 2006 and 2009.21

 

Racial and  gender inequalities persist right across the STEM  sector, and  the examples presented in this section only provide a snapshot of the broader issue. The AMS, The Royal Society, UK Research & Innovation (UKRI), NIHR and others have made important commitments to gather and share this information. Doing so, and therefore highlighting the extent of the issue, is the  only way for the  sector, including the BHF, to understand  where the problems lie and  what actions need to be taken to address them.


11 Advance HE, Equality in higher education: student data 2027, 2021

12 Advance HE, Equality in higher education: Statistical Report 2027: staff data 2027, 2021

13 Academy of Medical Sciences, Annual Diversity Report 2079120, 2020

14 Royal Society, Diversity Data Report 2079, 2019

15 National Institute for Health Research, Diversity Data Report, 2021

16 European Heart Journal, Women in Cardiology: The British !unior Cardiologists' Association identified challenges, 2019

17 Nature Human Behaviour, One and a half million medical papers reveal a link between author gender and attention to gender and sex analysis, 2017

18 BMJ Global Health, Where are the women? Gender inequalities in COV/D-79 research authorship. 2021

19 Nature, Women feature only rarely as first or last authors in leading /ournals, 2015

20 Shen et al, Persistent Underrepresentation of Women's Science in High-Profile lournals (Preprint), 2019

21 The Guardian, Female authors listed on /ust 30% of recent UK academic research, 2019


 

Topic 2: The reasons why these groups are underrepresented

 

This section is focussed on evidence of racial/ethnic and gender inequalities in the grant funding process, issues surrounding research culture, as well as reported bullying and harassment.

Bullying and Harassment

 

Findings have shown that female researchers and researchers who have Black and minority ethnic backgrounds are experiencing substantially higher levels of bullying and harassment in research environments than their counterparts, which likely contributes to the inequalities in representation in the STEM workforce.

 

Over the past 5 years, the University and College Union (UCU) and Equality Challenge Unit (ECU) have published a series of  reports looking into bullying  and  harassment  among ethnic minority staff in the UK. The most recent of these, Staying Power, which was based  on  one-to-one interviews with 20 of the 25 Black British female Professors in UK universities, concluded that a "culture of explicit and passive bullying persists across higher education along with racial stereotyping and racial microaggressions".22

 

These disturbing findings were echoed in a survey on research culture published by Wellcome in 2020.23 Survey findings highlighted that BAME researchers often felt their experiences of research were worse than those of their White colleagues, with around 29% of UK  respondents  reporting race or ethnicity-related discrimination or harassment. The same survey found that White respondents were more likely to feel comfortable speaking out about bullying and harassment than BAME respondents (35% versus 32%).

 

The Wellcome report surveyed over 4,200 researchers (60% female, 37% male, 1% non-binary, 2% unreported) and found that women were more likely (49%) to have experienced bullying or harassment than men (34%). Additionally, 44% of surveyed women reported they had personally experienced discrimination in their workplace. In the survey, female respondents were less likely than their  male counterparts to  believe that their concerns relating to these issues would be acted on appropriately if they were to raise them (22% versus 30%, respectively).

A 2021 study found that bullying in the UK cardiology workforce is a 'systemic' problem, with l in 10 cardiology trainee doctors reporting that they have been bullied.24 This study also found that women were 55% more likely to reporting being bullied, and those qualified in medicine outside the UK were most likely to report being subjected to bullying and racist language than those who qualified in the UK. This is a concern for clinical research as consultant cardiologists are key to NHS research into heart and circulatory diseases.

 

 

Disparities in grant funding

 

Ethnic and racial disparities have been documented within the research grant funding process, with regards to both applicant success rate and size of allocated award. These disparities received public attention in 2019, when a Freedom of Information request sent to UKRI revealed


22 University and College Union, Staying Power: The career experiences and strategies of UK Black female professors, 2019

23 Wellcome, What researchers think about the culture they work in, 2020

24 Heart, Bullying in UK cardiology: a systemic problem requiring systemic solutions, 2021


that between 2016-17 and 2015-19, of the total 19,565 PhD Studentships awarded across the funder's seven research councils, only 245 (1%) had been awarded to Black or Black Mixed students.25

2021 UKRI diversity data have added to the evidence base, showing that across all UKRI research councils in 2015-19, White principal investigators (Pis), the lead investigators responsible for the research, had a 30% grant success rate, compared to 23% for ethnic minority candidates. Of the 2,405 grants awarded in 2015-19, just lO were to Black researchers.26 The UKRI analysis also indicated that researchers who are women and ethnic minorities tend to apply for fewer awards; further to this, ethnic minority awardees tended to win smaller awards, with a mean research grant amount of £564k versus £670k for White Pis.

 

NIHR data reflects the same issue; ethnic minority applicants were found to be less successful at securing research funding than white applicants. Only  16.5%  of  applications  from  ethnic minorities were successful, compared with 21.2% of White applicants.27

In March 2021, UKRI  published harmonised  diversity  data  on funding applicants  and  recipients of research council grants between 2019 and 202028. This found that the proportion of female applicants has increased over the last six years by four percentage points and the proportion of co-investigator applications from ethnic minorities has increased by ll percentage points to 23% over the last six years. However, despite increases in applications, the proportion of researchers from female and ethnic minority applicants who were successful in receiving funding awards did not increase at a similar pace. Applicants from ethnic minority backgrounds were less likely to be successful in receiving funds than white researchers.

The above issues are key to understanding why certain groups are underrepresented in STEM; inequalities in the grant funding process mean that fewer of these researchers receive funding in the first instance, therefore locking them out of the STEM workforce, while those underrepresented groups that do receive funding are more likely to experience bullying and harassment, therefore potentially putting them off a career in STEM and causing them to  leave and not progress to leadership roles.29

Impacts of career breaks and part-time working

 

It is well documented that individuals who work part-time or take career breaks typically progress more slowly to senior positions.30 As in other sectors, it is female academic staff who are more likely to work part-time than their male counterparts. Indeed, the latest Advance HE staff data show that 34%of all SET female academic staff work part-time, compared to 21% of males (54% of all part-time staff are female, despite only making up 43% of the workforce).37 This disparity has been attributed in part to increased caring responsibilities faced by women in prevailing traditional family dynamics.32 However, even with these different working patterns taken into account, significant gender inequalities remain between research salaries. Advance HE staff data show that 37% of full-time female academic staff earn over £50k per annum, compared with


25 Leading Routes, The Broken Pipeline: Barriers to Black PhD Students Accessing Research Council Funding, 2019

26 UK Research and Innovation, Diversity Data, 2021 (N.B. the dataset rounds figures to the nearest 5)

27 National Institute of Health Research, Diversity Data Report, 2021

28 UK Research and Innovation, UKRI publishes latest diversity data for research funding. 2021

29 Wellcome, What researchers think about the culture they work in, 2020

30 Journal of Career Development, The Effects of Part-Time Employment and Gender on Organizational Career Growth, 2017

37 Advance HE, Equality in higher education: Statistical Report 2021 - Data Tables, 2021

32 Times Higher Education, Women in science are battling both Covid-19 and the patriarchy, 2020


45% of males. Bringing this issue into stark focus, in 2019, the New Scientist published its annual salary survey, reporting that the gender pay gap for UK scientists had widened. While the average salary for a female scientist or engineer was £35,600, the average for men was

£45,500.33 The New Scientist data show that the absolute pay gap between men and women increases with length of time spent in the industry and, given the male over-representation in more senior positions, this likely accounts for the widening gap.

The impact of Covid-19 has exacerbated gender disparities in STEM career progression and research outputs; data on the effects of the pandemic on scientific-publishing suggest that female researchers, particularly those at early-career stages, have been the hardest hit.34 Submissions to preprint servers rose more quickly for male authors than for female authors as restrictions were introduced and between January and May 2020, female authors accounted for only a third of all authors on published COVID-19 papers.35 The additional lockdown responsibilities that women are more likely to be responsible for, such as childcare, home-schooling and increased housework, on top of their regular academic work, is slowing female researchers' progress far more than their male counterparts, and there are major concerns that the impact of this will last for many years to come.36

 

Research culture

 

The Royal Society defines research culture as encompassing  'the behaviours, values, expectations, attitudes and norms of our research communities. It influences researchers' career paths and determines the way that research is conducted and communicated.'

There  are  issues surrounding  research culture that  lead to underrepresentation of  certain groups in STEM. For example, the ways that researchers' career outputs are evaluated (e.g., when applying for researcher positions), have for many years focussed on the number of publications and the prestige of the journals those articles were  published in. Such  a  narrow focus on publications does not take into account the many other ways that researchers can make meaningful contributions to the STEM sector, e.g., through science engagement, mentoring, policy and EDI work. This is part of a domino effect that links back to the issue of disparities in grant funding; when researchers who are women and/or from a Black or minority ethnic background are discriminated against at the grant funding stages, fewer of them are able to publish in high impact journals and therefore fewer of them are classified as 'high achievers' in the current research culture, despite many of them being involved in various other types of skilled and valuable STEM work.

To start to tackle this issue, the BHF and many other funders are signatories of the San Francisco Declaration on Research  Assessment  (DORA)37 which recognises the  need to  improve the ways in which researchers and the outputs of  scholarly research are  evaluated. By becoming a signatory, the BHF has committed to the following DORA principles:

l.   Transparency in how applications and grants are assessed

Researchers should know how their proposed research will be assessed from the  start of the application stage. Similarly, during the course of the grant, the evaluation criteria for scientific productivity should be made transparent.

 


33 New Scientist Jobs, Gender pay gap widens for UK scientists and engineers, 2019

34 BMJ Global Health, Where are the women? Gender inequalities in COV/0-79 research authorship. 2020

35 Nature, Are women publishing less during the pandemic? Here's what the data say. 2020

36 British Science Association, Missing voices: Lockdown and the female scientist, 2021

37 The Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA), 2021


  1. Responsible use of bibliometrics

Journal impact factor should not be used as a surrogate measure of the scientific quality of a research article. A research article should be judged by its own scientific merit, not that of the journal that it is published in.

3.       An appreciation of the value of all research outputs

The value of all research outputs, not just publications, should be recognised in the assessment of scientific productivity. In the evaluation of past research productivity, the consideration of wider research outputs such as the generation of intellectual property, influence on policy, or public engagement activities, gives a more complete indication of achievement.35

In July 2021, the BHF joined other leading funders in signing a joint letter39 which commits to exploring a shared approach  to developing  a  'narrative CV' based  on the Royal Society's Resume for Researchers.40 Narrative CVs encourage researchers to demonstrate their achievements  beyond traditional measures of  success (i.e., publications)  and  allows more diverse skills to be included - this is a practical way to implement the DORA principle about 'an appreciation of the value of all research outputs', drive an inclusive research culture and, long­ term, increase the diversity of senior researchers.

It is important to note that this is not an exhaustive list and there are many other systemic issues that lead to underrepresentation and discrimination; however, the above issues are those that we have the most accurate, STEM-specific data for.

Topic 3: The implications of these groups being underrepresented in STEM roles in academia and industry

The effect of diversity on research excellence

 

Aside from the moral imperative of creating environments that are inclusive and non­ discriminatory, other advantages of having a diverse workforce have long been documented across other sectors.41 Evidence is increasingly emerging that shows that diversity in STEM is critical to excellence. For example, in 2017, the University of Sheffield conducted a review alongside Wellcome to explore the relationship between a diverse health research community and the quality of research they undertake.42 The review found that a diverse research workforce is more productive and creative, with progress often resulting from diverse perspectives. This echoing findings from a cross-sector literature review carried out by the UK Government in 2013.43

 

A shortage of staff in the STEM sector

 

As outlined in the Industrial Strategy (2017),44 the UK Research and Development Roadmap (2020)45 and Build Back Better Plan For Growth (2021)46, this Government recognises the high


38 The British Heart Foundation, Fit for DORA, 2021

39 UKRI, Funders joint statement: Exploring a shared approach towards a narrative CV, 2021

40 The Royal Society, Resume for Researchers, 2021

47 Procedia Economics and Finance, Workforce Diversity: A Key to Improve Productivity. 2014

42 University of Sheffield in partnership with Wellcome, Review of diversity and inclusion literature and an evaluation of methodologies and metrics relating to health research, 2017

43 Department for Business, Innovation & Skills, The business case for equality and diversity: a survey of the academic literature, 2013

44 Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, The UK's Industrial Strategy. 2017

45 Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, UK Research and Development Roadmap, 2020

46 HM Treasury, Build Back Better: our plan for growth, 2021


value of STEM to the UK economy, and how having a fully staffed, skilled and diverse STEM sector will aid long-term economic growth and global competitiveness.

 

As such, a lack of diversity represents a loss of critical contributors to the STEM sector, at a time when the sector is reporting a skills shortage. A 2021 report from the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Diversity and Inclusion in STEM reported the mismatch between the STEM skills needed and those available in the UK, and estimated the current gap is costing businesses £1.5 billion per year.47

 

The 2020 R&D People and Culture Strategy highlighted this skills gap and set out how attracting diverse domestic and international talent would be central to cementing the UK's position as a global leader in R&D.48 Specifically, the strategy set a target for the UK to attract an additional 150,000 people to the UK R&D sector by 2030. However, this ambition is set against a backdrop of increasing international competition for talent, emphasising the need for the UK to cultivate a STEM sector that is welcoming, inclusive, and diverse. Indeed, the APPG on Diversity and Inclusion in STEM's report noted that 'as R&D becomes increasingly integral to the UK's future prosperity outside of the European Union, and against the backdrop of an economy slowed by the COVID-

19 pandemic, a diverse STEM workforce is likely to give the UK an  economic  and  social advantage'.  In  addition, such economic  and  social advantage  could help the Government  reach its aspirations to 'level up' regional opportunity across the UK.

 

 

The diversity and inclusivity of research outputs

 

Alongside the equity and fairness of ensuring that no group is excluded from the research workforce, the APPG report also highlighted that researchers from underrepresented groups are more likely to undertake research and ask questions that meet the needs of those groups. However, it is important to note that it should not be the sole responsibility of researchers from underrepresented groups to conduct such research - representative research should be a collective responsibility and priority for the whole STEM sector. Ensuring the right, representative research questions are asked by all researchers and including diverse perspectives and ideas helps to address otherwise unmet needs. This is key to reducing health inequalities experienced by underrepresented groups, e.g., tackling the heightened risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke which disproportionality impacts people from a Black and minority ethnic people, and those from a lower socioeconomic background.

The impact on research participation

 

Despite efforts at the national level to increase diversity in clinical research,49 the issue of underrepresentation of women in clinical trials persists, including in cardiovascular medicine. In 2020, a review of 740 cardiovascular trials between 2010 and 2017 found that just 35.2% of clinical trial participants were women, with especially low participation among participants aged 61-65 years and in Government supported clinical trials.50 Underrepresentation of women in cardiology, and therefore fewer women authoring cardiology trials, is likely a contributing factor to this; in 2020, researchers reported that international heart failure trials with a female first or senior author

 

 


47 APPG on STEM, Inquiry into Equity in the STEM Workforce, 2021

45 Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, R&D People and Culture Strategy. 2021

49 National Institute for Health Research, Improving inclusion of under-served groups in clinical research: Guidance from INCLUDE pro/ect, 2020

5 Circulation. Women's Participation in Cardiovascular Clinical Trials From 2070 to 2077, 2020


were associated with better recruitment rates of women (39% enrolment of female participants compared with 26% for those with male authors)51.

The issue of underrepresentation in clinical research garnered significant attention during the Covid-19 pandemic, during which there was low recorded participation by Black and minority ethnic communities in Covid-19 research, despite the virus impacting ethnic minorities more severely.52

Topic 4: What has been done to address underrepresentation of particular groups in STEM roles

Data as a starting point for action

 

Collection, analysis and publication of diversity data is an essential first step for tackling EDI issues in STEM, as it provides benchmarks, accountability and an ability for the sector to see whether existing interventions are having an impact, as well as where  additional  efforts  should  be focussed.

 

As highlighted in the above sections, several large funders have provided invaluable data for the research sector to date. Key datasets include:

 

 

However, not all funders have the resource or capacity to collect demographic data from their grant applicants and awardees. For example, the BHF only started collecting data on its principal grant applicants and co-investigators in January 2020. Without organisation or specialty specific data, deciding where to focus action can be difficult. As such, we welcomed the commitment made in the recently published UKRI EDI strategy to contribute to sector knowledge and understanding about 'what works' in measuring, evaluating and using EDI data.57

 

 

Targeted funding and support

 

Encouragingly, many funders are taking practical steps to tackle underrepresentation of particular groups in STEM roles. There are many examples of this, so here we are highlighting a

 

 

 


57 Circulation: Heart Failure, Representation of Women Authors in International Heart Failure Guidelines and Contemporary Clinical Trials, 2020

52 National Institute for Health Research, People from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic backgrounds and

the elderly encouraged to participate in vital COV/D-79 vaccine studies, 2020

53 UK Research and Innovation, Diversity results for UKRI funding data 2074-75 to 2078-79, 2020

54 UK Research and Innovation, Detailed ethnicity analysis of funding applicants and awardees 2074-75 to 2078-79, 2020

55 National Institute for Health Research, Diversity Data Report, 2021

56 Wellcome, Grant funding data report 2079/20, 2021

57 UKRI, UKRI equality diversity and inclusion strategy: draft for consultation, 2021


few recent case studies that refer to issues discussed in Topics 1,2 and 3 i.e., the broken pipeline effect and issues surrounding research culture.

Ringfenced funding

 

In November 2021, UKRI launched 13 new projects worth  nearly £5 million to tackle inequalities and enable more Black, Asian and minority ethnic students to access and take part in postgraduate  research  (PGR).55 The  projects  will be delivered  over the  next four years and  aim to improve access into research, enhance  research culture and  the experience  for Black, Asian and minority ethnic PGR students, and diversify and enhance routes into a range of careers. The projects include the following:

         12-month mentoring and development programmes and an eight-week paid research

placement for 300 Black, Asian and minority ethnic students in London - This project aims to strengthen the students' applications to postgraduate programmes, increase networking opportunities, and extend support through an alumni community. It will also promote institutional culture change through training for staff who supervise, train, or support Black, Asian and minority ethnic PGR students.

To tackle disparities in grant funding for researchers from a Black and minority ethnic background, some funders are creating new funding opportunities specifically for these groups. For example, in December 2021, The Wellcome Sanger Institute launched a three-year Fellowship that is open exclusively to 'early-stage  Black heritage  researchers' who  studied at  a UK institution and offers a fully salary, research expenses and training.59

Targeted support and awards

 

Other examples of targeted support include:

 

 


58 UK Research and Innovation, Improving minority ethnic groups' access to postgraduate  research, 2021 59 Wellcome Sanger Institute, Launch of Fellowship programme to support next generation of Black scientists, 2021

60 Health Data Research UK, Health Data Research UK Announces Black Internship Programme Starting Summer 2021, 2020

61 University of Oxford Medical Sciences Division, Targeted Funding Oppertunities

62 The British Heart Foundation, Career Re-entry Research Fellowships


the contributions of Black researchers, provided career advice and networking oppertunities, and raised awareness on cardiovascular diseases in the Black community.

To promote healthy research culture, the Royal Society is investing in rewarding researchers for achievement beyond academic publications (as discussed in Topic 2) with the launch of the Royal Society Research Culture  Award.63 Examples  of  people  who will be recognised  via  this new award includes those who have supported others in their scientific careers; those who have made significant contributions to improving the culture, environment and working conditions for researchers; and  those who  produce technological innovations that enable a more open culture.

EDI strategy publications

 

Many research funders have developed publicly available strategies which outline their efforts and vision for realising Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI). For example, Wellcome launched an EDI strategy in March 2021, which set out tangible measures with set short-, medium- and long-term deadlines64. The initiatives are wide ranging, and include Pis and Centre Directors having to demonstrate inclusive leadership behaviours by 2026, and addressing disparities in

funding rates. Cancer Research UK also launched an EDI strategy in January 202165 This is a comprehensive set of goals and initiatives, covering all aspects related to medical research, including representation in trials. Initiatives include policy reviews, targeted career support for ethnic minority researchers and publishing of diversity data.

The BHF is committed to actively and openly  supporting and  promoting  EDI, leading by example as a major research funder and using our influence to make cardiovascular research available to, and for the benefit of, everyone. This is reflected in our Strategy to 2030, which states our intention to "attract, nurture and support the brightest minds and the best ideas", which requires drawing from the widest pool of talent available beyond perceived or actual barriers to inclusion.66 We are currently drafting an organisation-wide EDI strategy, which we plan to publish in Spring 2022. This will set out our view of where we want to instigate change over the next three years. In the research space, we have already taken several actions, including:

 

 


63 The Royal Society, Royal Society Research Culture Award, 2021

64 Wellcome, Diversity. equity and inclusion strategy, 2021

65 Cancer Research UK, Our EDI commitment, 2021

66 The British Heart Foundation, Our Strategy, 2020


Assessment (DORA).65 And in July 2021, we joined other funders in agreeing to explore a shared approach to adopting a narrative CV based on Royal Society's the Resume for Researchers.69

Inclusion in Science and Health (EDIS) group, a coalition of organisations working to improve EDI within the science and health research sector.70

 

 

Topic 5: 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

Deliver on commitments made in the R&D People & Culture strategy by developing, testing and evaluating new ideas with the sector

Government has an important opportunity to capitalise on the momentum that  exists  around tackling issues surrounding inequalities in STEM and should provide robust leadership to create a  more unified approach  across the  sector. Small charities are  key players in improving  diversity in STEM, however limited resource means that guidance from Government on how they can best support their research communities is essential. This would help UK R&D to be as strong and successful as it possibly can be - an investment in tackling EDI issues in STEM is an investment in the success of UK R&D, which in turn will help to cement the UK's status as a global science superpower.

The Government's R&D People & Culture strategy was welcomed by the sector as a first step in acknowledging and outlining numerous issues in the research sector. It committed to tackle the issues of 'a research culture which is not seen as open and inclusive', 'incentives, particularly in academia, that value too  narrow  a range of  contributions' and  bullying  and  harassment.  We were pleased to see the UKRl's EDI strategy commitment to catalysing sector-wide change by delivering on ambitions set out in the strategy, through co-design with stakeholders and piloting experimental approaches. We suggest  that  UKRI  work  with existing  groups  such as cross­ sector Equality, Diversity and Inclusion in Science and Health (EDIS) group and the Researcher Development Concordat Strategy Group.

Recommendations from the APPG on Diversity and Inclusion in STEM

 

On 20 July 2021, the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Diversity and Inclusion in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) published the 'Equity in the STEM workforce' report following an eight-month inquiry.71

 

 

 

 


67 UK Research and Innovation, New forum for tackling bullying and harassment, 2020

65 The British Heart Foundation, Fit for DORA, 2021

69 Funders ioint statement: Exploring a shared approach towards a narrative CV, 2021

70 Equality. Diversity and Inclusion in Science and Health

71 APPG on Diversity and Inclusion in STEM, Inquiry into Equity in the STEM Workforce, 2021


This report outlined three recommendations for the Government to address the issues of representation and equity in STEM. The BHF supports these recommendations, and joins the APPG in calling for the Government to:

 

including within the categories of ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation and identity, and socio-economic status, to allow for improved mapping of the workforce.

Learning from charities

 

For charity funders, the Association of Medical Research Charities (AMRC) has published an EDI resource hub72 which collates EDI materials for its members. Open access and easily accessible EDI resources are very valuable, particularly for smaller research charities who do not have the necessary resources to develop a robust EDI strategy from scratch, but who are critical to supporting EDI efforts across the research ecosystem. This is a useful resource not  just for charities, but for all STEM organisations, including Government.

 

 

 

 

 

(January 2022)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


72 Association of Medical Research Charities, Equity. Diversity and Inclusion Resource Hub