The theme of equality, diversity and inclusion in UK Polar Science comes under the spotlight this month at British Antarctic Survey (BAS).
New blogs, refreshed web content and a social media campaign aim to highlight a two-year programme of work aimed at boosting diversity in UK polar science. BAS is playing a leading role in an initiative conceived and funded by the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office Polar Regions Department. The Diversity in UK Polar Science Initiative celebrates existing diversity, and takes an important step forward to promote and enhance Antarctic science opportunities to under-represented groups, including women, people from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME), LGBTQ+ community, and people with a disability.
Director of BAS Professor Dame Jane Francis says.
“Diversity is paramount to our organisation and to our success. We aim to embrace diversity in all its forms, and strive to provide our staff with a sense of belonging no matter their characteristics, culture, experience, education or economic background. We have worked hard in recent years to improve the gender balance across our organisation, and to ensure that we have a framework in place to address issues relating to equality, diversity and inclusion.
“Now, with support from the Foreign & Commonwealth Polar Regions Department, we can go beyond our own organisation and work collectively with university colleagues from the polar science community and within UKRI-NERC, to enhance our understanding of current barriers. Together we are exploring ways to nurture and increase diversity across UK Polar Science.”
UK research institutions across the UK recognise that diversity is essential to deliver excellence in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Professor Martin Siegert FRSE, Co-Director of the Grantham Institute at Imperial College London, is a long-term research collaborator with BAS, and Chair of the UK Arctic and Antarctic Partnership. He says,
“I welcome the Diversity in UK Polar Science Initiative. Climate change is the greatest threat to our society. But, what is the use of successful climate mitigation if our society remains fundamentally broken? Research, and in our case investigations of Polar Regions, aims to improve all our lives – not a subset. Maximising our chances of success requires us to seek, train and empower talented people from the widest possible pool. We must all recognise the obstacles that act against inclusion, and work much harder to build the research community necessary to address the questions we urgently need answers to.”