As part of a series of activities and initiatives to mark the 200th anniversary of the discovery of Antarctica, the Diversity in UK Polar Science initiative, conceived and funded by the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) Polar Regions Department, celebrates existing diversity, and takes an important step forward to promote and enhance Antarctic science opportunities to under-represented groups, including women, people from ethnic minorities, BAME, LGBTQ+ community and people with a disability.
For over 100 years since its discovery, visitors to Antarctica were overwhelmingly men. It was not until the 1980s that the first British female scientists began working at the frozen continent. The ambition for this initiative is to deliver a more diverse and inclusive future for UK Polar science – a future that reflects the diversity in British society today.
To achieve this we are delivering a two-year programme of work that enhances understanding of current barriers, explores ways to nurture and increase diversity in Polar Science, and pilots positive action to help boost diversity in UK polar science.
Diversity in Polar Science – a starting point
To understand the current Polar Science diversity landscape we examined data from the 2017 Office of National Statistics Research Report on the percentages of minority groups in UK society and compared these with data from STEM higher education and BAS (as a proxy for UK polar science). This created a benchmark from which to measure improvement.
Boosting diversity in Polar Science – Steering Committee
A Steering Committee, Co-chaired by representatives from the British Antarctic Survey, the University of Bristol and Imperial College, drives the initiative forward. Convened in September 2019, the committee comprises representatives from across British Antarctic Survey (BAS), experts from the UKRI Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Advisory Board, the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research, European Polar Board, and a BAME in STEM consultant.
Delivering success – making an impact
Our delivery plan includes a series of events and engagement activities aimed at to improving diversity in UK Polar Science.
Get involved with the Diversity in Polar Science Initiative
Our initiative needs advocates, and people who can amplify the momentum for diversity and inclusion within their own organisation. Please contact Project Manager Donna Frater if you are a member of the UK polar science community and would like to get involved.
Contributions relating to the following are most welcome:
- Sharing successful case studies where your science organisation has addressed and improved diversity issues
- Connecting Equality Diversity and Inclusion Champions in your organisation to this initiative
- Guest presentations in our online webinars to inspire students from groups currently underrepresented in polar science
- Join the conversation in upcoming events
The Diversity in UK Polar Science Initiative aims to:
- increase representation of people from under-represented groups engaged in Polar Science in the UK from <3% to be closer to the STEM national average of 16%
- to align UK Polar Science engagement across the UK with national policy and best-practice principles set out in the FCO Diversity and Equality Report 2018-19, the UKRI Equality, diversity and inclusion programme, and BAS commitment to equality, inclusion and diversity
- promote career opportunities in polar science (including support roles) and influence BAS and UKRI-NERC policy decisions to address potential or perceived institutional barriers to diversity
- Involve and engage experts from the wider BAS-UKRI-NERC and UK Higher Education communities in a campaign to influence positive cultural and behavioural change across UK Polar Science
- stimulate discussion on all forms of diversity across the UK Polar landscape
Promoting diversity, equality and inclusion in UK polar science – key objectives are to:
- quantify and analyse the current diversity data for ethnic background, disability and LGBTQ+ orientation within UK Polar Science
- create an engagement campaign to promote the initiative to university students, polar networks across the UK, specialist community groups; as well as to senior leaders and recruiters within BAS-UKRI-NERC
- help nurture an inclusive culture by developing tools and resources to enable our project ‘champions and ‘ambassadors’ to engage with students, colleagues and the UK Polar community
To deliver our ambition we will:
- Host a series of Polar Horizons talks and webinars for students and earlier career scientists from all backgrounds
- Involve people from under-represented groups in a Citizen Science Project – Seals from Space
- Highlight or create resources and guidelines to help recruiters, scientists and managers to engage effectively with people from under-represented groups
- Utilise media, social media and other online channels to share opportunities, news and diversity stories with under-represented groups
- Bring in expertise and insight from polar science networks and special interest community groups
- Share our meeting reports to stimulate ideas and feedback. For example, read the inaugural Polar Horizons meeting report here.
BAS Marine Biogeographer Huw Griffiths engaging with the students at a Polar Horizons event.
1 March, 2022 by Alexander Fyans
Simon Garrod, Director of BAS Operations and Engineering, reflects on Zero Discrimination Day and on the changes regarding inclusion and discrimination that have occurred since he started working in the polar environment nearly thirty years ago.
3 December, 2021 by Pilvi Muschitiello
Today, 3 December 2021, is the United Nations International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD). The theme this year focuses on “Leadership and participation of persons with disabilities toward an …
5 October, 2021 by Huw Griffiths
Black History Month recognises and celebrates the achievements of people with African or Caribbean heritage and takes place every October (in the UK). It marks the contributions of Black people …
23 June, 2021 by Jon Ager
Jon Ager joined British Antarctic Survey as Director of the UK Antarctic Infrastructure Modernisation Programme in 2019, after serving for almost 35 years in the Royal Air Force and aerospace …
31 March, 2021 by Martin Siegert
Professor Martin Siegert from Imperial College London has just become one of the three new co-chairs of the Diversity in UK Polar Science Initiative Steering committee. In this guest blog, …
9 February, 2021 by Amelie Kirchgaessner
British Antarctic Survey scientist Dr Amelié Kirchgaessner shares her journey in polar science for International Day of Women and Girls in Science 2021 (11 Feb). My name is Amelié Kirchgaessner, …
22 October, 2020 by Kaitlin Naughten
Blog: Ocean modeller Dr Kaitlin Naughten discusses what we can do as individuals and as institutions to support our colleagues who stammer.
15 October, 2020 by Sharon Grant
To celebrate Black History Month Sharon Grant describes her time working for British Antarctic Suirvey in this guest blog.
3 September, 2020 by Beatrix Schlarb-Ridley
BLOG. Director of Innovation and Impact aims to enhance innovation culture through diversity and inclusion.
3 August, 2020 by David Vaughan
BLOG. BAS Director of Science, Professor David Vaughan describes his ambition for more diversity in science.
14 July, 2020 by Jane Rumble
BLOG. Jane Rumble, Head of the Foreign & Commonwealth Office Polar Regions Department talks about a new initiative to enhance diversity in UK Polar Science
22 June, 2020 by Huw Griffiths
BAS marine biogeographer Dr Huw Griffiths talks about the importance of diverse role models. He is hopeful that existing and future polar scientists will see that being yourself and being different are no barrier to working in the most extreme environments on Earth, and can be a real asset as a scientist.
5 July, 2019 by Huw Griffiths
BLOG. Biologist Huw Griffiths shares his personal experience of research as a member of the LGBTQ+ community.
10 December, 2021
Applications for PhD projects with British Antarctic Survey (BAS) are now open for October 2022 admission. BAS currently supports over 100 PhD students, working on a huge variety of projects. …
18 November, 2021
Today (18 November) British Antarctic Survey (BAS) joins global celebrations to mark LGBTQ+ STEM DAY and Polar Pride Day. Polar Pride is a celebration of the contribution of LGBTQ+ people …
22 October, 2021
A report outlining the importance of Intentionally Inclusive Spaces in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) through a case study of the Polar Horizons 2021 programme is published this month …
13 August, 2021
Outcomes of the first phase of the Diversity in UK Polar Science Initiative (DiPSI) are promoted this month
8 March, 2021
On International Women’s Day (8 March 2021), we mark and celebrate women working at British Antarctic Survey (BAS). We showcase the diversity of roles and specialities of those working in …
5 March, 2021
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 …
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 …
11 February, 2021
Today is International Day of Women and Girls in Science (11 February), a celebration of women and girls in science led by UNESCO and UN-Women. “International Day of Women and …
18 November, 2020
Today (18 November) marks the first Polar Pride – a celebration of the contribution of LGBTQ+ people in the overseas territories including British Antarctic Territory and South Georgia & the …
4 August, 2020
New blogs, refreshed web content and a social media campaign aim to highlight a two-year programme of work aimed at boosting diversity in UK polar science.
27 July, 2020
The Government of the British Antarctic Territory (BAT) and the Government of South Georgia & the South Sandwich Islands (SGSSI) celebrate the contribution of LGBTQ+ people by declaring 18 November …
10 June, 2020
British Antarctic Survey supports and endorses the UKRI statement on Black Lives Matter. We embrace and recognise the importance of taking a stand against racism and strive for diversity and equality of opportunity, and are committed to building inclusive and diverse teams that represent all backgrounds.