Black Caribbean and Bangladeshi populations are the most under-represented in science, engineering and technology (SET), in terms of occupations held and education beyond GCSEs, according to research by the University of Warwick in a report just published by the Royal Society.
The report - 'Science, Engineering and Technology and the UK's Ethnic Minority Population' - brings together and analyses data on the level of participation in SET education and employment by age, sex and race. The research, carried out by the University of Warwick's Institute for Employment Research, reveals a very mixed picture of participation in SET among ethnic minority groups. It is hoped that the results will inform debate in this important area.
Professor Peter Elias, co-author of the report, said: "This report provides the clearest picture yet of participation in science among ethnic minority groups in the UK. Two things come out clearly. Firstly, we need to define ethnic groups as accurately as possible to gain a useful picture. And secondly, Black Caribbean and Bangladeshi populations are least well represented. The report also reveals some possibly more surprising results. For example, in some respects, the White population is also under-represented compared with its population size."
Professor Elias continued: "When defining ethnic groups, broad differentiation along the lines of White, Black or Asian will not suffice. If we look at Black ethnic minority groups, we see that the Black African population is very well represented in SET, whereas the Black Caribbean population is not. Similarly, among Asian groups, the Indian population is well-represented, while the opposite is true for the Bangladeshi population."
"The two main disadvantaged groups in terms of participation in science, engineering and technology are the Bangladeshi population, particularly among women, and the Black Caribbean population, where the problem is greatest among males. 1.6 per cent of the Bangladeshi population and 2.3 per cent of the Black Caribbean population are in SET employment, compared to just over 5.3 per cent of the White ethnic population."
"A striking example of under-representation of the White population is seen in the numbers of White students studying a SET subject, which is lower than would be expected from the size of the population. However, areas of White, and often male, domination remain, particularly with regards to high achievement in academic science."
Professor Elias added: "The findings also confirm previous work by highlighting a clear gender divide in terms of participation in SET, with men being approximately four times more likely to work in a SET occupation than women. This ratio was broadly consistent across all ethnic groups."
The Royal Society, which commissioned the report from the University of Warwick's Institute for Employment Research, and was supported by the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts and funded by the Department for Education and Skills, sees this work as phase one of a two-phase exercise.
Professor Martin Taylor, Vice President of the Royal Society, said: "These figures are extremely useful in starting to build an accurate picture of participation in SET in the UK, so that we can identify where action is needed to ensure that no group is disadvantaged in terms of educational opportunities. As a second phase, we are now hoping to commission work which incorporates additional factors such as socio-economic status and cultural values. Such factors may be having an influence over whether an individual participates in science beyond compulsory education."
NOTES FOR EDITORS
1. This report was commissioned by the Royal Society to provide a more detailed picture of the level of participation in science, engineering and technology education and employment by age, sex and race. The aim was to address gaps that had been evident in earlier reports and support a separate project looking more broadly at the use of SET role models to inspire young people, particularly girls and ethnic minority communities. Both projects were support by the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts and funded by the Department for Education and Skills. The Role Model Good Practice Guide is available at www.royalsoc.ac.uk/rolemodels
2. The University of Warwick is one of the UK's top 10 research universities. And the University of Warwick's Institute for Employment Research is one of Europe's leading centres for research in the labour market field. Its work focuses upon the operation of labour markets and socio-economic processes related to employment and unemployment in the UK at national, regional and local levels.
3. The Royal Society is an independent academy promoting the natural and applied sciences. Founded in 1660, the Society has three roles, as the UK academy of science, as a learned Society, and as a funding agency. It responds to individual demand with selection by merit, not by field. The Society's objectives are to:
" strengthen UK science by providing support to excellent individuals
" fund excellent research to push back the frontiers of knowledge
" attract and retain the best scientists
" ensure the UK engages with the best science around the world
" support science communication and education; and communicate and encourage dialogue with the public
" provide the best independent advice nationally and internationally
" promote scholarship and encourage research into the history of science
For further information or a copy of the report contact:
Press and Public Relations
The Royal Society, London
Tel: 020 7451 2508/2510
Mob: 07866 288456
Head of Press & Media Relations
University of Warwick
Tel: 024 7652 3708
Mob: 07767 655860
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