Celebrating diversity in science through outreach
By: Jessica Gowers
Last updated: Friday, 21 February 2020
The School of Life Sciences has launched a project to increase recognition of lesser-known scientists.
Undergraduate and Postgraduate students of the School of Life Sciences are collaborating to develop material that celebrates a diverse range of people in science. The students will develop hands-on activities and talks that can be taken into schools and community groups, covering a variety of scientists from both history and present day.
The project was initiated by Dr Zhaid Pranjol, a Lecturer in Biomedical Sciences, who recognised the importance of promoting diversity in science to change aspirations of young people.
Zahid said: “We know that the stereotype of what a scientist looks like is recognised from a young age. This can lead to a lot of marginalised groups feeling like they don’t belong in science, resulting in them choosing to study other subjects. This project will bring children from different backgrounds together to learn about scientists with a whole range of identities and experiences, with the aim of demonstrating that science is for everyone.”
Students will be developing activities over the coming months and will be trialled in local schools in the summer term, before the suite of activities is offered to schools more widely.
Public Engagement Coordinator and Co-chair of the School of Life Sciences Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Committee Dr Katy Petherick is managing the project, and has previously led other outreach activities promoting diverse voices in science, including Soapbox Science Brighton and Out and About STEM.
Katy said: “The enthusiasm from our students have been really motivational. They have suggested scientists I’ve never heard of who are BME (Black and minority ethnic), LGBTQ+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, plus), disabled, and all intersections across these. We hope the project will be a brilliant celebration of the contributions to science minority groups have made, while also recognising and discussing the struggles marginalised people have had in science, both historically and currently.”
This project is part of a series of upcoming events that highlight inequities in science, both in representation and as research subjects. On 18 March, the Universities of Sussex and Brighton will be co-hosting science journalist Angela Saini, who will be discussing science inaccuracies about women and race respectively.