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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.
NEWS: 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

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. 50 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.

Also, the delegates were very active on social media, contributing to the discussions and sharing best practice. The highlights can be seen on Storify.

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 policy@rsb.org.uk

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.

Activities

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 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.

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.