4 March, 2021

Findings from a polar science Race Impact Survey are reported this week (4 March) by the Diversity in Polar Science Initiative (DiPSI).

The Survey, carried out during October 2020, generated 174 responses from polar academics within UK universities and polar research institutions.  Recommendations and issues identified by researchers from within the polar research community indicate strong support for a more diverse and inclusive community; and will help inform positive actions towards correcting the imbalance in racial diversity and inclusivity in UK STEM areas.

Key findings were:

  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 an incident 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 and response to these behaviours.

DiPSI Project Manager Donna Frater says,

“One of our key aims was to quantify and analyse the current diversity data for ethnic background, disability and LGBTQ+ orientation within UK Polar Science.  I would like to thank the UK polar science community for making time to complete this survey.  It provides us with a much clearer picture of racism within this group and will help inform future strategies to tackle this.”

The Diversity in Polar Science Initiative is funded by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) and aims to increase representation of people from under-represented groups engaged in Polar Science in the UK; especially for ethnic minorities (BAME) – currently around <3% when the STEM national average is 16%.  Its Steering Committee, chaired by the Head of the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) Polar Regions Department, includes individuals from British Antarctic Survey, UK Higher Education Institutes, the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR), European Polar Board (EPB), as well as diversity and inclusion advocates including Pride in Polar Research group, Women in Polar Science group, and the Minorities in Polar Science group.

The Report is published on the British Antarctic Survey website here