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EPSRC Review into Diversity and Inclusion Barriers in Academic ICT Research

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) has announced that it has commissioned a review into diversity and inclusion barriers within academic Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) research.

Questions that will be considered include the following:

  • Why do many women not continue a career in ICT research?
  • What are the barriers faced by some minority groups, such as black and ethnic minorities, in pursuing an ICT research career?

The EPSRC acknowledges that, currently, only 25% of the ICT student population and 18% of the research staff in computer sciences and electronic and electrical engineering are women. In addition, with little data available for ethnicity and age within these research areas, the extent of underrepresentation within these groups is unknown. However, HESA data, EPSRC portfolio data, and discussions with the ICT community have indicated that there are significant barriers within ICT research preventing underrepresented groups from pursuing careers in this field.

This review will investigate what the barriers are, how they manifest themselves and what can be done to support underrepresented groups in ICT. The main purpose of the survey is to collect data from a wide range of researchers within the ICT community, and not just from people within the underrepresented groups.

The survey has been commissioned by the EPSRC in collaboration with the British Computer Society, NMI and the UK Computing Research Committee, and will be carried out by the Employment Research Institute at Edinburgh Napier University.

Speaking at the announcement of the study, Dr Alison Wall, Associate Director at EPSRC, said:

“We are committed to attracting the best researchers into research and innovation careers. Women are underrepresented and we suspect other minority groups are underrepresented too. We know that women represent about 18% of academic research staff. The study will, we hope, uncover the extent to which other groups (in addition to women) might be underrepresented.

“We’d like to attract more people from these groups to pursue a career in the discipline. First, we need to understand what the barriers are and then we hope to work with our partners towards removing them.”

Individuals interested in sharing their views should complete the online survey by the closing date of 28 February 2017.

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