13 August, 2021 EDI, News stories

A report outlining the outcomes of the first phase of the Diversity in UK Polar Science Initiative (DiPSI) is promoted this month (August 2021). DiPSi has been conceived and funded by the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) to promote and enhance Antarctic science opportunities to underrepresented groups, including women, people from ethnic minorities, the LGBTQ+ community and people with a disability. The report highlights the outcomes of the first phase (September 2019 – March 2021), and makes recommendations for how progress can be built on in the future.

A group of students listening to a talk in a conference room
Connecting in person – Michael Bravo delivering a talk on the launch day of the UK Polar Horizons 2020 programme.

The reports details how the first stage of the initiative has been successful in several key areas of engagement and impact. For example, the Polar Horizons project – which invites minority groups into the UK Polar Community, has been a resounding success, with engagement of over 150 UK students in online talks and discussion groups, linking students from groups underrepresented in UK polar science with mentors from the polar science community. The report also describes how DiPSI supported exceptional levels of community engagement in the first Polar Pride Day, celebrated on 18 November 2020 and completion of the first survey regarding racism in the polar community in March 2021 provided an important benchmark.

A sign in front of a building
Celebrating the first Polar Pride day by flying the Progress Pride flag at BAS HQ in Cambridge, 2020.

Jane Rumble OBE, Head of Polar Regions Department in the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office says:

“The rapid changes in the Polar Regions will have profound impacts for everyone, so we need experts from all walks of life to help us understand and communicate them.

“The FCDO created the Diversity in Polar Science Initiative in 2019 to help us attract the scientists, policymakers and other specialists we’ll need to tackle the challenges ahead, so I’m delighted to see this report showing real signs of progress.

“We have a lot more work to do to promote the wonderful opportunities on offer working in Antarctic science and research to under-represented groups, and this Initiative is playing a crucial role in doing just that.”

Group photo from zoom call, featuring a group of people each on their small screen
Connecting remotely – A screen grab of some Polar Horizons 2021 alumni and presenters during the 2021 launch week.

Dr Beatrix Schlarb-Ridley, Director of Innovation and Impact at British Antarctic Survey and co-chair of the DiPSI steering committee says:

“DiPSI has been a tremendously important and timely initiative – it has started to raise awareness across the polar community and its funders of existing inequities, and has developed a number of resources available to the community to help address some of the issues identified as barriers.

“We have been encouraged by the willingness of the UK polar community to learn together, in a non-tokenistic way, how we can create an environment that helps all to thrive, irrespective of background. By understanding the barriers to this, we can create action to encourage diversity and inclusion. We realise we still have a long way to go, but are excited about what has been achieved so far, and keen to build on this progress in the next stage of the initiative.”

Access the full report here ‘First stage report: Diversity In UK Polar Science Initiative 2019-2021’ with more resources here ‘Diversity in UK Polar Science – Resources