#MyScienceInquiry proposal backed by Sheffield researchers to be launched this year

An inquiry looking at how funding impacts equality and diversity in STEMM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine) subjects will be launched, thanks to the help of researchers at the University of Sheffield.

The proposal was submitted by Rachel Oliver, Professor of Material Science at Cambridge University and supported by Sheffield researchers Dr Amy Gandy and Dr Candice Majewski.

Professor Oliver said: “The lack of diversity in STEMM shrinks the available pool of talent and ideas and hence limits the excellence of our research.

“I suggested the #MyScienceInquiry looks at equality, diversity, inclusion and accessibility in the research funding ecosystem because funding is hugely influential in controlling the research career pipeline, and so has a big influence on diversity in STEMM.

“I’m delighted that this proposal was chosen by the select committee. The pitch I made was developed by a team of scientists from across the UK, working together to get our point across. The success of our pitch just shows how powerful diverse teams can be.”

My Science Inquiry was launched by the government in 2016 and again in November 2018.

The Inquiry invited members of the public to suggest areas for research and scrutiny by the government. Three other pitches as well as Professor Oliver’s have been chosen for inquiries.

Dr Gandy hopes the inquiry will lead to a more opportunities for diversity within STEMM research.

She said: “In terms of the funding schemes available to researchers working in STEMM subjects, the deadlines set are not flexible to support different working patterns.

“Also, I think there is an unconscious bias of reviewers, which has never been addressed.

“Carrying out this inquiry to reveal the true extent of the problem will hopefully force an essential cultural change, to ensure we all have equal opportunities, which will greatly enhance research within the UK.”

The inquiry will be launched within the next 12 months.