IOA Comments on Diversity in STEM Inquiry

IOA Comments on Diversity in STEM Inquiry

Posted by
Alex Shaida
Wed, 30/03/2022 - 11:16

 

The Institute of Acoustics (IOA) contributed to the joint National Engineering Policy Centre (NEPC) response to the UK Government Science and Technology Select Committee ‘Diversity in STEM’ Inquiry. The Call for Evidence for the Inquiry stated:

There is evidence to suggest that women, certain ethnic minorities, people with disabilities and those from disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds are underrepresented in education, training and employment related to STEM.

The inquiry acknowledged the importance of diversity amongst the research community quoting UK Research and Innovation’s Chief Executive, Dame Ottoline Leyser:

High-quality research and innovation needs diversity. You have to have people with different ideas and different backgrounds coming together to create the kind of environment where extraordinary things happen.”

Topics covered were:

  • the nature or extent to which women, ethnic minorities, people with disabilities and from disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds are underrepresented in STEM in academia and industry
  • reasons why these groups are underrepresented
  • implications of these groups being underrepresented
  • action taken to address underrepresentation of particular groups in STEM roles
  • what could and should be done by UK Government, UK Research and Innovation, other funding bodies, industry and academia to address issues identified.

Angela Lamacraft, IOA Diversity Champion, co-ordinated our response, providing the demographic breakdown of membership at January 2021.

Looking to the future, the IOA suggests UK Government, UK Research and Innovation, other funding bodies, industry and academia can address issues identified as follows:

  • Encouraging employers to recognise difficulties faced by underrepresented groups and consider ways in which they can help address these
  • Encouraging employers to consider different ways of working enabling more people to join and remain in the engineering workforce

And for IOA:

  • Requesting more detailed information about our IOA membership enabling us to better understand our current demographics
  • Mentoring, encouraging, and supporting people new to the profession and those returning after a career break
  • Investigating the potential for the IOA to provide refresher courses for people returning after a career break
  • Working to normalise part-time working, job share, and other flexible working across our sector, building on examples of excellence
  • Supporting Matt Hancock’s Dyslexia Screening Bill, and extending it to cover other forms of neurodiversity. Early diagnosis and support can make all the difference.

The final NEPC response, along with all other written and oral evidence, can be found at https://committees.parliament.uk/work/1639/diversity-and-inclusion-in-stem/

The IOA Diversity team can be contacted by email: diversity [at] ioa [dot] org [dot] uk