Studies aim to improve equality for scientists

Research to improve equality, diversity and inclusivity in engineering and the physical sciences is getting under way at the University.

Three projects involving Edinburgh researchers are among 11 being launched across the UK in a £5.5 million scheme, Inclusion Matters, funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

In a study led by the Universities of Edinburgh and Nottingham, researchers will examine the complex factors that lead to under-representation of women amongst those who lead large research grants.  

Experts hope their efforts will improve diversity in research leadership enabling opportunities that benefit the economy.

The study, a partnership between science and social science, will aim to understand the culture that leads to under-representation, and to identify how culture and practices can be effectively changed.

In addition to the two years of funding from EPSRC, the University has funded a year-long extension of the project.

Enabling progress

In a separate project led by the University of Glasgow and involving Edinburgh experts, researchers will aim to understand and improve bias against women academics in networking and collaboration.

Their study will focus on a lack of progress among women in securing promotions.

It will also examine the disadvantages women academics experience in building an international reputation – such as fewer opportunities to speak at conferences, join opinion panels or undertake travel.

Disability focus

A third project, led by Heriot-Watt University, will focus on inclusivity for researchers with disability.

It aims to improve the recruitment, retention and progression of post-doctoral disabled scientists through online training for employers.

Disabled scientists face a range of obstacles such as inaccessible laboratories, social barriers and a lack of managerial understanding.

The web tools are being designed with help from disabled researchers, managers and employers, and will include virtual reality experiences that lend insight into the experiences of researchers with disability.

The scheme will also provide training for disabled researchers to support their career development.

Opportunity for all creates better science and benefits for everyone – we want to work to ensure equality, diversity and inclusivity in areas where bias of any kind currently limits people’s scope and potential.

Professor Jane NormanVice Principal for People and Culture, University of Edinburgh

Related links

Equality and diversity at the University