3 August, 2020 Diversity in UK Polar Science
I’ve been lucky, I’ve spent my working life as a research scientist trying to find answers to questions that affect how we see the world and our place on it. Every day, I learn something new, a new idea that’s surprising, worth the telling and worth knowing. Those ideas aren’t straight or gay, black or white, male or female, they’re simply good ideas that come from the creative minds of my scientific colleagues around the world. Those creative minds are similar only in their curiosity, and in being minds that can make that leap beyond what’s been learned or what’s known.
The creative process of science works through collaboration and communication, but it thrives on diversity of background, outlook and thought. Sometimes it take a scientist, different from the rest, to have that new insight or approach that challenges the accepted truth, or even change the way we see and understand our planet. In science, diversity delivers better outcomes; different life experiences and backgrounds can yield extraordinary insights.
While our society is changing rapidly, it’s clear that science is behind the curve, with many scientific disciplines not reflecting our multi-faceted society, but having acknowledged there’s an issue, things are beginning to change. The gender balance in science has changed for the better. The LGBTQ+ community is making huge steps forward to break down barriers, but the journey needs us all onboard. I’m a straight, white, male, without a disability, I belong to the current majority, but not only do I support equality, diversity and inclusion in science, I am committed to doing what I can to ensure that my field, polar science, benefits from skilled, creative and talented minds from all backgrounds. I want to be an ally across all areas of diversity by being active and visible in my support, calling out any barriers to inclusion, and working to understand the challenges my colleagues face.
As Director of Science for BAS, I can influence my organisation’s drive towards greater inclusion and use my networks to influence the wider polar research community. I am proud of BAS, not just of the people in it, but of the organisation itself, and I want that organisation to welcome and benefit from diversity. I’ll do my best to make sure we enhance inclusion, and I’ll be an ally to anyone who believes their difference holds them back.
Living and working in Antarctica taught me to value those around me, and that in time of stress it’s often not the people you expect who turn out to be remarkable and pull the team through. Having seen that in Antarctica, I noticed it everywhere. The best teams I have worked in have diversity and mutual respect as their foundation. I want science to lead in promoting and facilitating diversity, it will be stronger for it; and I want BAS to play a proactive and visible role in making this happen. As a Diversity Ally, I will be there to help.