A new report, Mapping and analysis of science engagement and inequity in the UK, has been published today (Tuesday 15 March) during British Science Week 2022.

Commissioned by the British Science Association (BSA), and compiled by London Economics, a policy and economics consultancy, the report looks at different measures or ‘indicators’ of science engagement in a given area – such as number of science museums/centres, STEM graduates and businesses – combining them into a ‘opportunity to engage with science index’ to showcase how likely it is that someone is able to interact with science in their local authority.

Download the full report

Key findings:

  • The science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) engagement landscape in the UK is complex and nuanced. In many cases, adjacent areas have very different levels of opportunity to engage with science.

  • There are a number of areas with extensive science engagement. These ‘hot spots’ occur predominantly in large cities where there is a significant and long-standing science infrastructure linked to the location of higher education institutions, STEM based enterprises, science museums and more people with STEM qualifications.

  • The analysis has also identified a large number of ‘cold spots’ where the provision of science engagement is significantly lower. Although not always the case, many of these cold spots incorporate coastal and rural areas and former industrial heartlands, where there is limited science infrastructure.

The BSA’s vision is a future where science is more relevant, representative and connected to society. In order to realise this, we must understand how much science is present - or absent - in areas across the country. We place great emphasis on improving equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) in the science and science engagement sectors, and mapping the geography of science engagement can start to show us the scale of inequity in the UK. This can then inform where EDI practises in those sectors may need more attention, or identify areas that have been overlooked by science engagement.

This project is the first to bring together and analyse these selected measures of science engagement, painting an initial picture of the UK’s science engagement landscape.

The research is not without its limitations, however, as we are unable to take into account who is engaging with science, the impact of population sizes within local authorities or movement of people between towns/cities.

The report, research and index development therefore provide a ‘starter for ten’ in exploring where science engagement opportunities are concentrated. We are inviting organisations, institutions and other groups and individuals who are interested in using this data to plan or evaluate their activities, to provide feedback on what our next steps should be in order for this to be useable and actionable.

We will be hosting a webinar to open up discussions on the research in May 2022.

Find out more about this project

Visit the British Science Week website