Find out more about what we're doing in the pursuit of D&I
APPG on Diversity and Inclusion in STEM: 2022 Project
In Autumn 2021, the APPG on Diversity and inclusion in STEM put out a ‘Call for Ideas’ to invite submissions of potential activities for the APPG to focus on in 2022. After consultation with the SfAM membership, we concluded that the APPG should focus on the areas of anti-racism and anti-ableism.
The Society for Applied Microbiology established the Anti-racism working group (ARWG) to identify any forms of systemic racism that touch the lives of our team, committees and members - with a goal of ensuring SfAM is anti-racist organisation. The ARWG aims to examine how historic practices may have blocked equal participation in our work, learn and improve by facing difficult issues and being self-critical and have difficult conversations and face the realities of the changes needed to make our work better.
Since the group has been founded, ARWG members and some members of SfAM staff have had the opportunity to participate in the anti-racism meeting on Wellcome’s anti racism principles and toolkit and Race Reflections: Beyond Bias Training and we hope to extend this training to all SfAM staff and committee members in 2022. We are working hard to ensure the Society is an anti-racist organisation and feel that the sector must do more to ensure this is the case across the entire STEM workforce.
Ableism is endemic in academia and there is substantial underrepresentation of disabled scientists in STEM. There are multiple barriers for disabled scientists in STEM due to lack of awareness, accessibility and discrimination. Concerningly, there is underrepresentation of disabled scientists in the membership and committees of Learned Societies and funding bodies. The STEM workforce is less diverse than the wider workforce and without addressing the issue of ableism, the science community will never be representative of the general community or be inclusive of the interests of all communities. As a Society we are working to deepen our understanding of the barriers that regularly impact people with disabilities and how to best address and remove those barriers. As part of this commitment, we are implementing NADSN recommendations for disability inclusion in STEMM careers to remove and ameliorate barriers faced by those who are marginalised due to disability.
APPG on D&I in STEM 2022 Project
Following two inquiries on education and the workforce, the Secretariat were keen to explore different options and areas. From the 20+ submissions received, the Secretariat progressed three potential ideas, which were reviewed by the Group’s members from the House of Lords and House of Commons and included:
1. The digital divide and STEM skills
2. Disability in STEM – accessibility at all stages
3. Regional STEM skills inequity
We are now pleased to announce the APPG on Diversity and Inclusion in STEM’s 2022 project will be Regional STEM Skills Inequity. Regional STEM Skills Inequity evolved from an initial submission by Engineering UK. Submissions can be found on the APPG website.
World Mental Health Awareness Day
As part of Mental Health Awareness Day on October 10th 2020, we shared #MyWholeSelfies from SfAM Staff and Committee members to support Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) England's My Whole Self Campaign.
In 2020 we shouldn't have to leave parts of our identity behind - be that our cultural or ethnic background, sexuality, or health - when we work. My Whole Self aims to create a healthier workplace culture by strengthening human connections. Workplaces wherever they may be, play a key role in creating a society where everyone’s mental health matters.
Micro Comic Comp 2020 Winners Announced
As part of Mental Health Awareness week, SfAM hosted a comic competition to increase mental health awareness in STEM. The competition highlighted the importance of expressing oneself through various mediums, in this case via illustration, and provided SfAM members an opportunity to share their experiences and feelings during such extraordinary times. We want to send a big thank you to everyone who participated in our comic competition and helped to make it a huge success. We are delighted to share below the Winner and Runners-Up of the SfAM Micro Comic Competition 2020!
Taking charge of my thoughts
From time to time, I find myself spiralling into unhappiness. So, let me try to explain how I deal with crippling negative thoughts and show kindness to myself. Firstly, I acknowledge that the thoughts are present and do my best to pry myself away – although this sometimes takes a while and require a lot of effort. I examine my thoughts from an "outside" perspective looking in so that I can understand what is going on. Sometimes, this also leads me to accept that an explanation is not necessary nor possible at the moment. By allowing myself to engage with my thoughts, I feel better and more equipped to take charge of my feelings and actions afterwards.
The Struggles of Lockdown
I am a final-year undergraduate student in my very final exam session. Due to COVID-19, my university replaced all my exams with essay assignments, which I have a few weeks to write in the comfort of my own home. At first, I was quite excited I won't have to go through the devastating one-hour rush to recall everything I've ever learnt and construct it into a sensible piece of work. Except, I failed to account for the fact it won't be just me working from home…
Two PhD students working in a shared office PANNEL 1: Character 1 leaning back in their chair looking exhausted but relieved. Character 2 working away on a computer Character 1: “I’ve done it! After years of hard work, I’ve finally finished my thesis!”
PANNEL 2: Character 2 turns around to talk to Character 1 with a smirk, they had been waiting for this moment Character 2: “No way! You can’t B. cereus…. Get it? B. cereus, be serious”
PANNEL 3: Character 1 head in hands, looking tired, character 2 continues trying to explain the joke, thinking character 1 has somehow missed the joke. The speech of Character 2 slowly gets smaller as if fading into the background noise Character 1: “I can’t wait to get out of this office” Character 2: “B. cereus, be serious, it’s funny, come on what happened to your sense of humour. I thought it was one of my best……”
All Party Parliamentary Group on Diversity and Inclusion in STEM
The Society for Applied Microbiology is a member of the All parliamentary Group (APPG) on Diversity and Inclusion in STEM. The APPG on D&I in STEM is a cross-party group dedicated to promoting the inclusion and progression of people from diverse backgrounds in STEM. It aims to encourage government, parliamentarians, academics, businesses, and other stakeholders to work towards a STEM sector that is representative of the population.
The APPG conducted a 15-month inquiry into Equity in STEM Education to understand whether young people are provided with equitable learning opportunities within STEM education, regardless of their background. The resulting report, “Equity in STEM Education”, published in June 2020, identifies 6 recommendations for improving young people’s access, attainment, and engagement levels in STEM education.
Wellbeing Self-Assessment Tool
In order to maintain a good level of personal wellbeing it can be helpful to spend a few minutes reflecting on how we are feeling, both physically and mentally.
The wellbeing self-assessment tool has been designed to help you understand and identify what may be causing you stress. The tool also suggests some different ways to help improve your overall wellbeing.
Give it a go today - it only takes 5 minutes!
For more information visit the St John Ambulance website here.
Mental Health First Aid Champions
There are plenty of different types of support out there and your SfAM Mental Health First Aid Champions can help you access them. Your Mental Health First Aid Champions are a point of contact if you, or someone you are concerned about, are experiencing a mental health issue or emotional distress. They are not therapists or psychiatrists but can give you initial support and signpost you to appropriate help if required.
SfAM Mental Health First Aid Champions can:
- Understand why mental health is as important as physical health
- Help build a mentally healthy workplace and understand how Mental Health First Aid fits into the workplace
- Recognise the main symptoms of mental health conditions
- Listen non-judgementally
- Provide Mental Health First Aid for the most common mental health conditions
- Guide a person towards appropriate professional support
Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) England provides a selection of free downloadable resources including interactive toolkits, strategic guidance and more. For further information visit the MHFA England website here.
LGBT STEM DAY 2020
The next international day of LGBTQ+ people in STEM will happen on Wednesday 18th November 2020. The change of date comes after the result of an open survey and months of discussion. The date is symbolic of the 60th anniversary of American Astronomer and gay activist Frank Kameny’s US Supreme Court fight against workplace discrimination, a fight that continues today not only in the US, but in so many other countries worldwide. Watch out for SfAM's #LGBTSTEMDAY 2020 activities closer to the date.
Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion in Science and Health
The Society for Applied Microbiology is a member of Equality Diversity and Inclusion in Science and Health (EDIS). EDIS is a powerful coalition of 14 organisations which aims advance Equality, Diversity and Inclusion in Science and Health. To find out more visit the EDIS website here.
Community Corner Conversations
Clare Taylor, SfAM’s General Secretary hosted community conversations at FEMS 2019 Congress highlighting the importance of embracing diversity to build inclusive communities. The conversations covered topics such as the challenges that prohibit the microbiology community from becoming diverse and the challenges faced by specific groups within the community. The diversity in STEM community corner conversations included: women in STEM, LGBT+ in STEM and STEM in Africa. Following FEMS, the LGBT+ in STEM panellists were questioned about their community corner experience, see below.
Diversity and Inclusion Working Group
The Society for Applied Microbiology is a member of the Royal Society of Biology Member Organisations’ Diversity and Inclusion Working Group (DIWG), which convenes regularly to share best practice and co-ordinate activities and events.