Diversity as a Pathway to Impact

The UK has entrusted the Faraday Institution with £78 million to conduct basic research in energy storage and in the growing of the next generation of scientists and engineers.

To best position the UK to exploit this moment, we need to both diversify and expand the talent pool to be able to meet next generation challenges in batteries in ways that reflect the demographics of the UK. I’d argue that we have to know and understand our community data in order to be intentional in the change we would like to see.

Here are a few UK data points that may resonate with us as a community:
• Broad research into engineering careers conducted by Engineering UK in 2018 cites a growing skills shortfall by 2024. [1] Women comprise 47% of the UK workforce, yet make up only 12% of engineers and technicians. Meanwhile individuals of black and minority ethnic (BME) backgrounds comprise 12% of the UK workforce, but only 8% of engineers and technicians.
• Similar research in careers in the physical sciences show that women and BME are also substantially underrepresented. [2]
• In 2016-2017, only 1 in 5 female academics earned over £50,000 (22.5% of female academics, compared to 35.6% of male academics). [3]
• UK professors by gender and BME / white identity: 68.5% white male; 23.1% white female; 6.5% BME male; 1.9% BME female. [3]
• More than 1 in 10 students disclosed as disabled in 2016 / 17. [3]
• Another study by the Royal Society demonstrates that students from lower socio-economic strata are less likely to continue into science or mathematics. [4]

And we haven't even covered age, religion, and LGBTQ representation.

We have to know where we are in order to chart a path to a destination. How we build our teams to meet the responsibilities entrusted to us must be thoughtful, intentional, and deliberate. It needs to remain top of mind, especially as we make hiring decisions that will undoubtedly reflect the future makeup of our community.

At this moment, we have open positions for our next Faraday Institution PhD cohort

I am asking all supervisors who were awarded a studentship to be bold and intentional in their search for talent.

• Advertise the position in all of the usual places (Guardian jobs, FindaPhD.com).

• Be intentional in promoting the position with other networks. The FIHQ team are currently seeking to advertise the 2019 PhD studentships through the following organisations:
o STEM Women
o WISE Campaign 
o Athena Project
o Science Council
o Science Campaign
o Black, British Professionals in STEM
o Association for Black and Minority Ethnic Engineers
o Pride in STEM
• Sign-post in your ad that diversity is important to your organisation, and to you personally.

• Ensure you have a diverse review panel, agreed upon selection criteria, and that all voices are heard.

• Get advice on how best to conduct a diverse search from your university’s diversity office.

• Take unconscious bias training when offered.

• Encourage all good students you know to apply for open positions, and actively seek out those from groups historically under-represented.

• If you have a very small or homogenous pool of applicants, regroup, strategise, and work to bring in additional candidates.

The same advice applies when recruiting into any position funded by the Faraday Institution.

This year, we will be rolling out a series of positive actions on behalf of the Faraday Institution to help diversify and grow our community and will provide as much help to you as we can. Feel free to reach out to us if you have a question or concern and we will do what we can to assist.

Please share with us your best practice in ensuring a diverse and inclusive workplace. We would like to develop a set of case studies that we can share on faraday.community and elsewhere.


[1] "When looking at total demand for Level 3+ engineering skills across core and related engineering roles more broadly – we estimate the annual shortfall to be at least 83,000, and up to 110,000." The same report "finds strong evidence that girls and people from BME communities are being lost at different points within the educational pipeline. It is clear that these ‘leakages’ ultimately contribute to the under-representation of these groups in the engineering profession." https://www.engineeringuk.com/media/1576/7444_enguk18_synopsis_standalone_aw.pdf

[2] An analysis by the Royal Society presents a complex tapestry of data by gender, ethnicity, scientific field, and seniority of position, exposing different challenges around retention and promotion. See: https://royalsociety.org/~/media/Royal_Society_Content/policy/projects/leading-way-diversity/picture-uk-scientific-workforce/070314-diversity-report-executive-summary.pdf

[3] Equality in higher education: statistical report 2018, AdvanceHE


[4] https://royalsociety.org/~/media/Royal_Society_Content/policy/publications/2008/4294969756.pdf

Posted on April 3, 2019 in Uncategorized

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About the Author

Matthew Howard is Head of Engagement and Education for the Faraday Institution. +44 (0)1235 425126 office +44 (0)7741 853063 mobile https://www.linkedin.com/company/thefaradayinstitution/ https://twitter.com/FaradayInst


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