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Major report on improving diversity in STEM launched

Posted on 07/05/2014
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Recent CaSE diversity round table at King’s. From left-to-right: Michael Luck, Sarah Main and Evelyn Welch

The Campaign for Science and Engineering published a major policy report today, Improving Diversity in STEM, which shows that diversity in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) is much needed, but by all measures progress is too slow.

The new report is intended to help shape the thinking and priorities of the Westminster parties ahead of and beyond the next General Election. It brings together data and research from the last five years to build a picture of the current state of diversity in STEM, from education to the workforce.

King’s College London supported the project through which the Improving Diversity in STEM report was produced, hosting a round table in late February which was attended by over 45 representatives drawn from Whitehall departments, other universities, STEM businesses and a diverse range of learned societies, professional bodies and research funding charities.

The report finds that it is still the case that women, disabled people and those from ethnic-minorities or socially-disadvantaged groups are consistently underrepresented, particularly at senior levels, in science and engineering. It sets out a roadmap of actions to help inform the future approaches of policy makers and leaders across the science and engineering community.

Commenting on the report, and the diversity agenda at King’s, Professor Evelyn Welch, Vice Principal (Arts and Sciences) at King’s, said: ‘I was delighted that King’s was able to host the CaSE‘s Opinion Forum on improving diversity in STEM. The discussion was forward looking and has significantly informed the development of the key actions in this important, ambitious and timely report.

‘We’ve made some progress in the last decade in diversifying the student base and academic staff workforce career progression in higher education, but there are still a challenging range of underlying structural and cultural barriers to address.

‘The advent and growing impact of the Athena SWAN charter has been really positive. At King’s, there is growing demand for approaches originally developed for specific departments or schools under the auspices of Athena SWAN to be applied in other STEM and non-STEM schools, and we are proud to be piloting the Gender Equality Mark in our department of Social Science, Health & Medicine.

‘I strongly endorse one of the central arguments CaSE has rightly sought to make in this report, which is that improving diversity in STEM isn’t an optional extra. While there are strong arguments on the grounds of fairness and equality of opportunity, there is an economic competitiveness imperative at the heart of this agenda. We need to fully tap and develop the talents of all segments of the population if we are to be truly successful in the Sciences on a global scale.’

The Director of CaSE, Dr Sarah Main, also commented on the report. She said: ‘People and organisations across the sector are doing great work to broaden the appeal of science and engineering. However it is clear from today’s report that it is still hard for many in society to access the opportunities that skills in science and engineering bring.’

Notes to editors

For further media information, please contact the Public Relations Department on pr@kcl.ac.uk or 0207 848 3202.

The Improving Diversity in STEM report by the Campaign for Science and Engineering is available online.

Find out more about King’s work as a member of the Athena SWAN Charter.

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