Diversity in UK Polar Science: Race Impact Survey Report

Executive Summary

This report outlines the key findings and data summary from the first Race Impact survey of the UK polar community undertaken by the Diversity in UK Polar Science Initiative (DiPSI) in October 2020, with the guidance and support of the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) and British Antarctic Survey (BAS).

Survey results confirm a problem for people from minority backgrounds in entering UK polar research through recruitment and academic career development pipelines and the need and requirement to develop more inclusive policies in current UK polar institutions to support minorities. While the experiences of people from minority backgrounds are not specific to UK polar research, efforts are needed from within the polar community to address current underrepresentation and change the traditions that prevent ethnic minorities from fully contributing their talent to the UK polar research community.

The purpose of this report is to summarise the respondents’ demographics and free text comments and to analyse this data to help demonstrate and understand the current issues and collate future actions that can help improve racial diversity in UK polar research. This diversity is imperative for innovation and for community acceptance of crucial polar science.

Key survey findings at a glance:

  1. 32% of respondents (55/174) have witnessed discrimination based on race or micro-aggressive[1] behaviour towards individuals of a minority background while working within the UK polar research community.
  2. 57% of BAME respondents (4/7) have experienced racism in their workplace in polar research.
  3. 67% of respondents (37/55) who witnessed incidents that involved racism, did not report it.
  4. 78% of respondents (136/174) are aware of issues regarding racism and exclusion of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) staff or students inside the workforce culture of the UK polar research community.
  5. A lack of reporting of racist behaviours adds to the lack of recognition of these behaviours.

*Definition of microaggression: a comment or action that subtly and often unconsciously or unintentionally expresses a prejudiced attitude toward a member of a marginalized group (such as a racial minority)1

[1] Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, s.v. “microaggression,” accessed January 2021, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/microaggression.


On this site: Donna Frater
3 March, 2021