New report outlines importance of Intentionally Inclusive Spaces in STEM

British Antarctic Survey

A report outlining the importance of Intentionally Inclusive Spaces in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) through a case study of the Polar Horizons 2021 programme is published this month (October 2021). The newly published report was undertaken by the Creative Tuition Collective as part of the Diversity in UK Polar Science Initiative and funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC).

The Polar Horizons programme was created as a way of improving the diversity of UK polar science. Funded by the UK Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office, it was aimed at building new connections and collaborations between the UK Polar Science community and those from currently underrepresented groups, particularly racial and ethnic minorities, LGBTQ+ and disabled people. The report is an eye-opening compilation and analysis of the experiences of university students and early careers researchers in STEM. Focusing specifically on early career researchers’ experiences in education so far, this report explores what inclusivity means, what makes a space inclusive, what expectations researchers have of organisations in terms of diversity, representation and inclusivity. Additionally, this research serves to amplify the voices and experiences of the participants from minority backgrounds. The report also includes an action-plan of practical steps that can help to make education and work environments and be truly inclusive and welcoming to all.

Lara Lalemi, Founder and CEO of Creative Tuition Collective, said “These findings are important to the polar science community and the STEM education sector as a whole as they poignantly reinforce the importance and impact of embedding inclusivity within our institutions and organisations. The feeling of belonging should not be taken for granted, the feeling of belonging is powerful.”

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The report also includes interviews with the organisers of the initiative and reflects on their experiences of creating an inclusive space. Pilvi Muschitiello, Impact Facilitator at British Antarctic Survey and co-organiser, said of her experiences

“It was powerful to get to stop and think about what organising Polar Horizons meant, and what the practical and personal challenges of working day-to-day for equity, diversity and inclusion are. Looking back on what we achieved, but also why we do this work and what we’ve learned.”

Dr Beatrix Schlarb-Ridley, Director of Innovation at BAS and co-chair of the Diversity in UK Polar Science Initiative, said

“This report, written by Early Career Researchers from Creative Tuition Collective with a deep understanding of the challenges faced by minorities, gives highly valuable and authentic insights into what makes a genuinely inclusive environment. It invites us to listen and learn – and pursue inclusivity with persistent intent, for the benefit of the entire community.”

Access the full report here: https://www.bas.ac.uk/data/our-data/publication/creative-tuition-collective-polar-horizons-report-2021/

Creative Tuition Collective was established to provide extracurricular educational and mental health support to children from underrepresented communities, helping them to improve their grades and career prospects. To ensure their intentions, all services are provided free of charge at the point of use.

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