Equity in the STEM Workforce

Paper Summary

The Royal Society of Edinburgh responded to the UK Parliament’s All-Party Parliamentary Group on Diversity and Inclusion in STEM’s inquiry into Equity in the STEM Workforce.

The response draws predominantly on the RSE’s 2018 inquiry into women in science, Tapping All Our Talents, identifying areas of enduring gender inequity in the STEM employment sector, both in business and industry and academia. The letter indicates that a continued shortage of women in STEM leadership and academic positions and the gender pay gap remain key areas for improvement. The response also showcases positive case studies and presents recommendations for further action. Crucially, the availability of high-quality part-time and flexible roles as standard was highlighted by the 2018 inquiry as the development that would have the greatest impact on gender equality in the workplace. Further investment in effective unconscious bias training, positive action measures, affecting culture change in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), and developing bespoke solutions for different settings should also be prioritised.

Improving the diversity of Scotland’s STEM workplaces becomes even more critical as COVID-19 continues to demand adaptability and rapid, innovative solutions from the sector. The pandemic has also revealed areas of entrenched inequity and disadvantage which will need appropriate policy commitments and funding to tackle. The RSE’s own Post-COVID-19 Futures Commission has been leading on an exploration of these impacts across various demographics and how Scotland can rebuild itself as a fairer, more resilient nation.

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