MPs launch STEM diversity investigation

Article by Amanda Jasi

THE UK’s House of Commons Science and Technology Committee has launched an inquiry, Diversity in STEM, to investigate the extent of underrepresentation within STEM and to explore what policies from Government, academia, and industry could address it.

Across the UK, the STEM sector provides millions of careers in academia and industry. However, according to the Committee, research shows a lack of apparent diversity with underrepresentation from ethnic minority groups, those from lower socioeconomic backgrounds, people with disabilities, and women.

Dame Ottoline Leyser, Chief Executive of the UK’s national science and research funding body UK Research and Innovation, spoke about diversity in STEM at a November 2020 evidence hearing to the Committee. She said that “high‑quality research and innovation need diversity. You have to have people with different ideas and different backgrounds coming together to create the kind of environment where extraordinary things happen”.

The cross-party Science and Technology Committee will investigate the implications of lacking diversity in STEM for the UK’s science and technology sectors, as well as the effectiveness of measures already taken to improve diversity. It will explore how academia, industry, funding bodies, and policymakers can address issues identified during the inquiry.

The Committee is calling for written submission in any, or all, of the following topics:

  1. the nature or extent of underrepresentation within STEM academia of industry of women, ethnic minorities, people with disabilities and those from disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds;
  2. the reasons for underrepresentation of these groups;
  3. the implications of underrepresentation by these groups;
  4. what has been done to address underrepresentation of particular groups in STEM; and
  5. what actions can and should be taken by Government, UK Research and Innovation, other funding bodies, industry, and academia to address the issues identified.

Submissions are open until 14 January 2022.

Article by Amanda Jasi

Staff reporter, The Chemical Engineer

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