The House of Commons Science and Technology Select Committee recently announced an inquiry on Diversity in STEM, and are accepting written evidence submissions from anyone with experience of the topic. We’ve put together this guide on why and how you should submit evidence to the inquiry.

Submit your evidence here

What is the Select Committee?

The House of Commons Science and Technology Select Committee is a group of eleven Members of Parliament (MPs). Their role is to ensure that Government departments who use or influence science, engineering, technology, or research, are basing their policies on scientific evidence.

Select Committees often run inquiries to inform their recommendations to the Government. This involves collecting evidence from people with experience of the inquiry topic, which the Committee then review, summarise, and present to the Government.  

These inquiries are different to the inquiries run by the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Diversity and Inclusion in STEM, which the BSA has provided secretariat for. Select Committees have a formal link to the Government, and the Government must respond to Select Committee findings and recommendations within a fixed period (usually 60 days). By contrast, APPGs are informal groups with no official status within Parliament, but are a useful tool to raise awareness of issues, which might later become topics for Select Committee inquiries, Parliamentary debates, or higher profile campaigns.

What is the inquiry on Diversity in STEM?

The House of Commons Science and Technology Select Committee have chosen Diversity in STEM as one of their current inquiry topics. They have begun bringing together evidence that highlights the exclusion and underrepresentation of women, certain ethnic minorities, people with disabilities and those from disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds from STEM education, training, and employment. This evidence includes some of the findings from the 2021 APPG Inquiry into Equity in the STEM Workforce.

The Committee are now looking for written evidence to build a better picture of the issues around Diversity in STEM in order to make recommendations to the Government. In particular, the inquiry is requesting evidence relating to:

  • the nature or extent to which women, ethnic minorities, people with disabilities and those from disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds are underrepresented in STEM in academia and industry;
  • the reasons why these groups are underrepresented;
  • the implications of these groups being underrepresented in STEM roles in academia and industry;
  • what has been done to address underrepresentation of particular groups in STEM roles; and
  • what could and should be done by the UK Government, UK Research and Innovation, other funding bodies, industry and academia to address the issues identified.

The inquiry is currently accepting written evidence, with a deadline of 23:59 on Friday 14 January 2022.

Why should you submit written evidence?

Submitting evidence to this Select Committee is a powerful way to advocate for a more diverse and inclusive STEM sector in the UK. All the submissions are read and reviewed by Committee staff and Members, so it is an opportunity to share your experience and knowledge with people who have the power to influence change. Anyone with an understanding of the topic can submit evidence - Select Committees want to hear from a wide range of people and organisations as it helps them to understand the topic of inquiry more fully, and to understand what changes might be needed, and why.

Work by organisations such as the Campaign for Science and Engineering, the Royal Society, WISE, and the BSA, mean that the Committee will receive, or be able to access, policy reports and data describing the lack of diversity in STEM and the implications for the UK economy and society.  

However, the BSA believe it is important for the Committee to receive evidence from beyond the “usual suspects”. It will be harder for the Committee to uncover the stories of people who are directly affected by the lack of diversity, barriers to progression, harmful stereotypes about who STEM is for, damaging working culture, and all forms of discrimination.  

You should consider submitting evidence if:

  • You have lived experience of exclusion, discrimination, or underrepresentation in STEM. For example, if you work in STEM and you identify as: a woman or nonbinary person and/or are from a racially minoritised community and/or are disabled and/or are from an LGBTQ+ community and/or are from a lower socioeconomic background.
  • You have tried to improve diversity and inclusion in STEM in your organisation or community. For example, if you have worked with people that are excluded or underrepresented in STEM, and you have evidence of what has worked or what is needed.

How to get started

If you want to submit evidence, but are unsure where to begin, or have never submitted evidence to Parliament we have put together some resources to help.

What counts as evidence?

‘Evidence’ for submission in this context is written documentation that explains your or your organisation’s views on the inquiry subject. It can be qualitative in the form of a fact based argument or quantitative in the form of data. The strongest submissions are usually a mix of both.

For example the inquiry states they would like evidence on the following:

the nature or extent to which women, ethnic minorities, people with disabilities and those from disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds are underrepresented in STEM in academia and industry

A qualitative evidence response to this could detail your lived experience in STEM, describing any barriers faced or the nature of representation in STEM industry from your view point. It is important that Committees hear about the individual experiences of people in STEM, which they are unlikely to receive in submissions from large organisations.

However, to bolster your argument, it could be supported by references to quantitative statistics. For example, if you are describing your experience of being a woman in engineering, you could further illustrate this point by referencing statistics on the gender pay gap in engineering. If you work for an organisation or network that carries out member surveys or independent research, you may include this as well. Make sure any data is sufficiently anonymised in line with GDPR guidelines.

Where can you find evidence?

Aside from your own experience or access to data, there are lots of existing resources and reports on diversity in STEM which you can use as evidence to support your submission. Including as much factual evidence as possible increases the likelihood that your submission will be used in the inquiry. This could be in the form of statistics to include in your argument, quotes from reports or just general reference. Make sure to provide a link, reference, or citation for any resource you use so that the Committee can verify it if they need to.

The ‘Background to the inquiry’ section (P.13) of the APPG on D+I in STEM’s recent inquiry into Equity in the STEM workforce includes references to several reports and statistics that may be useful in this regard.

The ‘References’ section of the report (P.71) lists all the resources used in the inquiry and is a useful place to look for any reports or similar that might enhance your submission.

Access the report here

Further helpful links:

Top tips

Select Committees often receive large amounts of evidence and have limited time to process them. Keep submissions concise, structure them clearly and emphasise your main points.

Structural suggestions:

  • Introduction: Its helpful to start with a quick introduction – who is submitting the evidence and if you are writing on behalf of an organisation or network provide a short background on what they do.
  • Executive Summary: Follow this with an executive summary highlighting your main points or concerns. Use this section to identify the problems.
  • Main section: Provide the evidence you have to support the points or problems you raise in the executive summary. Include any solutions or recommendations you have for the issues. Select Committees often have a specific set of questions they are trying to address which can help you structure your response. You do not need to answer every question in your submission if you do not have the evidence.
  • References and suggestions: Make sure to include citations in the text whenever you refer to an external resource, ideally add this as a footnote but include a link as a minimum. If you have recommendations for other groups or individuals who the Committee should contact, include a list too.
  • Style: Keep paragraphs a reasonable size and number each one for readability.

Submissions need to follow the specified format to be accepted:

  • Word, ODT or RTF document
  • no more than 25MB in size
  • no more than 3,000 words
  • no logos

Unless you state otherwise evidence submitted will be publicly available online. If you do not want your evidence to be discoverable online you will need to state the reason  and contact the Committee clerk to flag this.

Submit your evidence here