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 which has been launched as part of the collective approach by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) to promote equality, diversity and inclusion.
Professor Patricia Thornley, of The University of Manchester, and one of the two Chairs of the panel which assessed the applications, said:
"Anyone who has recently walked into a university engineering department or STEM employer knows that the workforce does not reflect the UK's wider population.
This programme goes beyond previous initiatives to improve understanding of what actually works in improving diversity and delivers an evidence base. It focuses on delivering cultural change and such radical transformation requires deep institutional commitment."
Warwick will partner on two of these projects:
Uncovering Barriers to Inclusivity and Transforming Institutional Culture (Led by Professor Sam Kingman, University of Nottingham)
Programme Director Professor Sam Kingman:
"Our vision is for ED&I to become business as usual for all. We believe that mutual understanding will change culture and our innovative and multi-faceted project reflects this. Our strategy comprises a number of interventions that enable building of mutual understanding to drive transformational change both at Nottingham and beyond. A fundamental thread of our project is our 'Team Science' approach. We recognise that research endeavours are a collaborative effort and require us to work across our whole community for real success.
Our research initiatives include linguistic analysis to challenge the language of exclusion, the creation of an open access, national 'ED&I Library' enabling easy access to ED&I policies, data, literature and research, a radical evidence based approach to recruitment, retention and recognition and a number of programmes designed to build and embed cultural understanding including large scale reverse mentoring and a 'ChangeMaker' placement scheme for technical colleagues.
Our learnings will be integrated to build an 'Embedding Inclusion Matters: Lessons and Tools portfolio.' This is a living resource that will provide a road-map for organisations wanting to effect transformational change, featuring commentary and guidance on our methodologies and experiences evidenced by the outputs that will stem from our research."
Inclusion Really Does Matter
Improving Reactions to Gender Equality Initiatives Amongst Academics in Engineering and Physical Sciences (Led by Professor Su Taylor, Queen's University of Belfast)
Programme Director Dr Ioana Latu:
"Although gender equality initiatives (GEIs) exist in EPS Schools across the UK, progress is painfully slow. Our vision is that in order to change EPS diversity and inclusion culture sustainably and rapidly, we need to understand academics' potentially negative or indifferent attitudes towards GEIs.
To address this challenge, we will first conduct research to understand how attitudes towards GEIs can be improved. In a second phase, based on this evidence-based knowledge, we will build and test training tools aimed at improving the reception of GEIs. These tools will be designed both for the general EPS academic population (Virtual Reality toolkits, multimedia tools, apps) and for Athena Swan committees. We will ensure broad impact by sharing our empirical findings and trainings tools nationally, across EPS departments, and internationally with the scientific community.
We are an interdisciplinary research team with expertise in the psychology of gender stereotypes (Dr Latu), university GEIs (Professor McCormack), interventions (Professor Turner), and computer science (Dr Rafferty). Together with support from the institutional leadership through Professors Taylor and Price, and an international advisory board, we are committed to accelerating EPS diversity culture change, by addressing how GEIs are received on the ground, by the people who create this culture."
You can find more information about all eleven projects here.