In February, we posted about the Institute of Physics (IoP) conducting surveys in Physics departments all across the country to find out if the needs of their disabled STEM students were being met. The Diversity Programme at the IoP attempts to counteract any bias — intentional or not — against minority groups within gender, ethnicity, physical disabilities, learning disabilities, and socioeconomic status.

From their website, which can be found here, the IoP explains:

“Recognising the under-representation of certain groups within physics, the Diversity Programme seeks to identify barriers to participation and to use evidence-based research to create models of good practice that break down these barriers and encourage and engage diverse groups.

The Institute recognises that the case for diversity is more than just legislative; success of our organisation and our community relies on our ability to recruit, nurture and retain the richest mix of talent. We need to ensure that all those who wish to engage with the Institute and to engage with physics study or careers have the opportunity to do so.”

Obviously, this is a topic that lies close to our heart, and we were very honoured to be invited as one of the speakers at the event releasing the report. That event took place yesterday on May 2nd; the event was opened by Professor Paul Hardaker, IoP Chief Executive, and Jenni Dyer, IoP Head of Diversity, who summarised some of the main findings of the report. The event was well attended with several organisations and a wide range of universities present, such as Access 1st, Diamond Light Source Ltd, Royal Society of Chemistry, King’s College London, and the Universities of Cambridge, Oxford, Manchester, York, and Bath amongst many others.
After an introduction and some keynote speakers, including Dr Phil Gravestock from the University of Worcester and Dr Trevor Collins from the Open University, Grapheel had the opportunity to speak about “How accessible is a physics degree?”: a 20 minute talk by Daniel Hajas about his experience as a visually impaired STEM student at the University of Sussex. It was a great pleasure to speak in front of such an influential audience about something very closely related to the Grapheel vision, as well as to have the opportunity to learn more about where the UK stands as a whole in making progress to close the gaps between different demographics in STEM.
A warm thank you to the IoP for striving to make a difference in such an important field. The full report is accessible here at the IoP’s website.
Continued: Do disabled STEM students have less support in higher education? (IoP Diversity)

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