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 and inclusion is integrated into our business plan.
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.
The RSB actively works to increase the visibility of the LGBT+ community within the biosciences, to discuss and challenge the barriers LGBT+ scientists still face, and develop support networks for members of the LGBT+ community.
We regularly discuss the work and successes of LGBT+ members of our community; we have published blog posts on LGBT+ champions in STEM, the barriers that face people coming out in STEM and how to better support members of the LGBT+ community, and current campaigns working to make LGBT+ scientists more visible.
We are also a co-sponsor of the LGBT STEMinar programme, an initiative that looks to showcase work from diverse fields and to encourage collaborations between different departments, universities, companies and subjects.
You can find out more on our LGBT+ page.
Diversity, Equality and Inclusion 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 sex, gender, ethnic or national origin, nationality, disability, religion, sexual orientation, 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 2020 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 email@example.com
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.
A selection of our activities
The Society submitted a response to the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Diversity and Inclusion in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) inquiry on 'Equity in the STEM workforce' in January 2021. Several of our concerns were highlighted in the APPG subsequent report.
Launched in June 2019, a report was developed by a collaborative team from the Society and other sector leaders investigating the frontline support for students provided by technicians. We also produced a news story with more details.
The Society participates in a number of activities to support women in biology and address gender inequality in STEM.
We are members of the Special Educational Needs in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths Network that works to get more disabled people interacting with STEM and break down the barriers employers face to becoming more accessible. In addition to EDIS, a coalition of organisations working to improve equality, diversity and inclusion within the science and health research sector.
We are members of the Athena Forum, which is a unified voice that influences policy and supports cultural change that helps work towards the goal of a diverse STEMM workforce.
Our Returners to Bioscience group examined 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 sponsored the 2016 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.
A selection of previous events and initiatives
Athena SWAN Biosciences Best Practice Workshop March 2018
Following a successful event in 2015, the Royal Society of Biology, in partnership with a number of Member Organisations, hosted a repeat of the Athena SWAN Best Practice Workshop. The workshop aimed to share top tips for bioscience departments in higher education institutions to achieve an Athena SWAN award.
Download the programme and slides from some of the presentations.
Professor Peter Main, King's College London
Annie Ruddlesden, Equality Challenge Unit
Dr Kevin Guyan, Equality Challenge Unit
Dr Lucy Jones FRSB, Kingston University
Panel discussion: Broadening participation and expanding the concept of Diversity and Inclusion - Watch on YouTube
Watch highlights from the live stream below.
RSB Member Organisations come together to discuss equality and diversity in biosciences 10 May 2017
The MO Twilight event took place last week on 10th May and highlighted some of the successes of ED&I initiatives and frameworks among our MOs and other partners, but also many of the challenges that still face those working in research, industry and academia.
The Athena Survey of Science, Engineering, and Technology (ASSET) 5 April 2017
Research commissioned by a group of organisations, including the Royal Society of Biology, has found that women working in STEMM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine) still experience significant career challenges compared to men.
Athena SWAN Biosciences Best Practice workshop December 2015
The Society, working in partnership with the Biochemical Society, British Ecological Society, Microbiology Society and Society for Experimental Biology, ran the first Biosciences Athena SWAN Best Practice Workshop in Charles Darwin House on 11th December 2015. Fifty delegates attended the workshop to share best practice and make connections.
Watch a video of the event which highlights speaker top tips about applying for Athena SWAN awards and the benefits of attending event such as the Biosciences Athena SWAN workshop.
Two blog posts written by the workshop attendees are available online:
"Five things I learned at the Athena SWAN bioscience event" by Rachel Adams, Cardiff Metropolitan University
"Tackling underrepresentaion of women in science" by Zenobia Lewis, University of Liverpool
The Equality Challenge Unit, who runs the Athena SWAN Awards, attended the event and has produced a top tips sheet.
Finally, 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.