STEMM Change: Uncovering Barriers to Inclusion and Transforming Institutional Culture
Professor Sam Kingman (PI, Engineering), Professor Marion Walker (Co-I, Medicine and Health Sciences), Professor Louise Mullany (Co-I English), Dr Clare Burrage (Co-I, Physics and Astronomy), Stacy Johnson (Medicine and Health Sciences) Dr Lucy Jones (English), Kelly Vere (Co-I, Engineering), Dr Jacqueline Cordell (PDRA, English), Dr Paul Holmes (PDRA, English)
The EPSRC funded STEMM-CHANGE programme is an interdisciplinary research project, part of the EPSRC’s Inclusion Matters £5.5 million portfolio of dedicated funding for EDI research to address systematic and ingrained discrimination and exclusion in STEMM. The EPSRC are the first UKRI research council to implement such a dedicated funding stream for addressing EDI. All projects within Inclusion Matters are consortium-based and STEMM Change is headed up by the University of Nottingham with a number of other HEI project partners including the University of Warwick, NTU, University of Newcastle, University of Kent, Bradford University, the Royal Society of Engineering, the Royal Society of Chemistry and the Institute of Physics. They also have partners from industry, including Kohler Mira and Diversity by Design. Other, newer partners include Imperial College, London, the British Geological Survey and a number of other industry partners. This project contributes to achieving the combinations of diverse talent that Engineering and the Physical Sciences need to meet the sector and subject challenges of the 21st century. The project team is delivering a toolkit to diversify recruitment, retention and recognition practices, which consists of a series of linked interventions and methodologies tested collaboratively at UoN and among their HEI and industry partners.
The diversity toolkit is being designed to significantly enhance the opportunities for entry and career progression for groups typically under-represented in STEMM in academia and industry. It focuses upon addressing practices of often unconscious bias, discrimination and exclusion in recruitment and career progression, alongside digital discrimination faced by a number of academics in the public sphere on the basis of gender and a number of other protected characteristics. It also includes an innovative programme of reverse mentoring, particularly aimed at BAME staff and staff from non-traditional University backgrounds, and a cross-institutional placements programme, alongside building an innovative online national resource bank for EDI across STEMM for HEIs and learned societies. Key areas for organisational policy development in this project come from the linguistics research strand, where Professor Mullany and Dr Cordell are developing a white paper, and a series of interventions aimed at changing organisational policy on online communication practices and the regulations of social media providers, based on their sociolinguistic research on a large dataset of women in science YouTube videos from the Nottingham Science channels. Their research on recruitment language has already been presented to the Government Equalities Office (GEO) in July 2019 and it will continue to feed into the Government’s WAGE programme via the GEO, designed to bring changes to workplace culture which end discrimination and assist in closing the gender pay gap.
In addition to the main consortium project, there is also an additional series of STEMM Change feasibility studies that are currently underway at UoN involving staff from a number of different Schools and Faculties. The feasibility studies focus on research evaluations and the creation of innovative interventions to address current and future organisational EDI practices, with projects focusing on a range of topics including discrimination and racism around COVID-19, neurodiversity, disability, and unconscious bias in research grant writing and on research project teams. There is potential for a number of these projects to inform organisational policies. In particular, they could enable the Government agenda of making the Civil Service the most inclusive UK employer by 2020.