Underrepresented groups welcomed to polar science
This week over 100 early career researchers and students from underrepresented groups, particularly BAME, LGBTQ+ and the Disabled, took part in Polar Horizons 2021. The Polar Horizons Initiative, funded by the UK Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office, creates new connections and collaborations between these young people and the UK Polar Science community.
The initiative, has built upon the success of last year’s event hosting 22 students at BAS, and this year moved online, allowing over 100 participants from all over the UK. Throughout the week the students learnt about many aspects of polar science from biodiversity and space weather and the key areas of operations, logistics and sustainability.
Sixty three early career researchers were matched to volunteers from the UK polar research community including British Antarctic Survey and seven UK Universities. Students had the opportunity for one-to-one sessions with established polar scientists and engineers to learn what working in the polar regions is really like. It has also created a network of future Antarctic and Arctic researchers and engineers.
Polar Horizons 2021 is part of the Diversity in UK Polar Science Initiative.
Feedback from the participants has been hugely positive:
“It’s been an energizing and affirming experience!”
“A fantastic and informative experience where I felt welcomed and positive about being disabled”
“I now realise that I am able to make a difference and my sexual identity and disabilities are a positive tool to do so. It’s refreshing to be part of a scheme that aims to destigmatise polar research and input diversity and inclusivity.”
“I haven’t experienced such a welcoming and supportive group of people before from one organisation and have nothing but good things to say about all the BAS staff I’ve had contact with. I’ve learned a huge amount this week – far beyond my expectations!”
“I’ve found the Polar Horizons project amazing so far. I applied because my PhD has a glaciation/polar link, but I’d never considered a job in the polar regions before. It’s really opened my eyes to the opportunities out there. Additionally, I’ve found starting a PhD in a pandemic quite lonely so this project came at just the right time and gave me a big much needed boost!”
“I have learnt so much about the diversity of Polar research this week. I am now coming away with a clear picture of how to start a career in polar research and some great contacts to do this!”
“I’ve really enjoyed the programme this year – as a 1st year undergrad, the whole experience has been really inspiring, and has made be feel that I have a space in polar science as a queer woman. Meeting with my host and hearing the experiences of all of the speakers this week have shown me how varied the routes into polar science are, and have proved that unconventional routes can even be beneficial in terms of the experience you gain!”
“Hearing from polar scientists and professionals who’ve come from such diverse and indirect backgrounds has really helped me to see a future for myself in polar science. As a member of the LGBTQ+ community, Polar Horizons has also helped me to realise that I’m not alone in my endeavours.”
“Polar Horizons 2021 has been so inspiring and informative, but also very comforting to me as a disabled queer person to have our difficulties acknowledged and discussed as part of the community. Feel much more confident in what I have to bring to the scientific community on the whole, as well as more confident in there being a support network out there of people in similar positions, but also genuine allies putting the work in.”