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The Royal Society of Biology is committed to ensuring equal opportunities in the life sciences, and supports diversity throughout the pipeline; at school and higher education, in the workplace and training.

Diversity, Equality and Inclusion

We are a signatory of the Science Council’s Declaration on Diversity, Equality and Inclusion. This means that we will pro-actively promote a culture of equality, diversity and inclusion within our discipline by: 

  • Appointing a board level diversity champion who, in partnership with the senior executive staff member in our organisation, will advocate the importance of equality, diversity and inclusion, and be accountable for improving practice and communicating our diversity strategies to our staff, membership and other stakeholders.
  • Planning and implementing a programme of work to embed the principles of equality, diversity and inclusion into our current organisational policies, practices and behaviours, and enhance the equality of opportunity in our activities as an employer and professional/learned body.
  • Measuring, assessing and reflecting on our progress annually.
  • Sharing these outcomes with the Science Council and supporting the collective progress of Science Council member bodies through joint learning and sharing good practice.

We are currently developing a programme of work to enable these commitments. This includes but is not limited to the following activities.

Equality & Diversity in our membership

We have demonstrated that imbalances in membership can be corrected, and have successfully used targeted recruitment initiatives and other means to improve low female representation within our Fellowship of 6.5% in 2007 to 21% in 2014. However, gender inequality is just one aspect of inclusion.

The Royal Society of Biology is committed to ensuring that it is accessible to everyone regardless of gender, ethnic or national origin, nationality, disability, religion, sexual orientation, gender reassignment, socio-economic background or age.

To ensure we are achieving this aim and can monitor our progress, we have included equality and diversity questions in our 2015 member survey. If you would like more information on this survey and what we intend to do with the results, please contact our science policy team at

Please note, we offer a 50% discount on membership if you are retired, on a career break, not in paid employment, or a student in full-time education.


The Society participates in a number of activities to support women in biology and address gender inequality in STEM.

We are a core member of the STEM Disability Committee, which supports the inclusion of disabled people in science, technology, engineering and maths.

Our Returners to Bioscience group examines the experiences of those who face difficulties in returning to a career in the biosciences after an extended break. Visit our Groups and Committees page to find out more.

The Society sponsors the 2015 Athena Survey of Science Engineering and Technology (ASSET); a web-based survey of career progression in STEMM in Higher Education that raises awareness of the differences in male and female career progression and highlights good practice in the sector.

We are a  Your Life campaign signatory. Your Life is a three-year campaign to ensure the UK has the maths and science skills it needs to succeed in a competitive global economy. The campaign will do this by inspiring young people to study maths and science as a gateway to exciting and wide-ranging careers; and by helping employers recruit and retain talent, particularly women.

Diversity within our Member Organisations

Paul Richards discusses what the Learned Society community are doing to promote equality in STEM in his blog: 'Diverse initiatives to promote diversity in science, engineering and maths: Part 1'.

The Biochemical Society announced a new diversity strategy in 2014 including a ‘Stay Connected’ bursary scheme and Diversity in Science grants.

The Society of Applied Microbiology (SfAM) now offers additional funds, as part of their conference attendance grants scheme, to cover child care costs that would be required to enable attendance.

The British Pharmacological Society (BPS) run a range of diversity initiatives, including a mentoring scheme aimed at early career female researchers and care support bursaries. The BPS has also recently published their new equality and diversity statement.

The Physiological Society ran women in science sessions and launched their new women in physiology booklet at the IUPS conference in Birmingham in July 2013. The Physiological Society is also a member of the STEM Disability Transition Group. 

The Microbiology Society has produced an equality and diversity statement and has established ways of working to ensure equality and diversity are included in all of its activities. The Society announced its new Inclusion Grants to support members who would not otherwise have the opportunity to attend the SGM Annual Conference.

Diversity at other Learned Societies

Other learned societies, including the Royal Society, Royal Society of Chemistry, Institute of Physics and Royal Academy of Engineering, are working on a wide range of diversity initiatives. The Royal Society of Biology works alongside these organisations through our membership of the Athena Forum and the STEM Disability Committee.