By Louis Stupple-Harris, Research and Campaigns Manager at the British Science Association

We want to make sure that everyone can learn about, experience and influence science, regardless of their background. In addition to the programmes we run to support and engage students from low-income backgrounds, we wanted to do more as an organisation. That’s why we’re partnering with the Social Mobility Foundation to take action.

Starting this year, we’ll be welcoming young people into our office for a week of work experience. Our visitors will be challenged to put together a project that helps us to understand how we can work better with young people, both in work experience and in our educational and engagement programmes. We’ll be encouraging them to set goals and objectives for our work based on their interests and understanding of education. At the end of the week, they’ll be tasked with presenting their ideas to our staff. We hope that the project will give them a foundation for future work in science engagement, and build confidence and transferable skills that will aid them in applications for university and beyond.

We often get requests for work experience from people that are already quite well-connected with science and the world of work. They often come from a family with science qualifications and have an extensive list of extracurricular achievements. These are people with plenty of science capital; and at times we’ve been worried that by giving opportunities to those already ahead of the game, we’re worsening the divide for everyone else.

Luckily, this is exactly what the Social Mobility Foundation is working on. They were founded in 2005 to make a practical improvement in social mobility for young people from low-income backgrounds. Their work is all about creating opportunities and networks of support for people who aren’t already well connected through their families and schools.

We hope that we’ll be able to organise work experience placements in the future, and encourage other science organisations to join in. We’re not the first but we’d like to push more organisations to take part.

We’ll be releasing more about our plans for diversity and inclusion in the coming months. Starting with our own work, we’re trying to make science more accessible and inclusive to people from a diverse range of backgrounds. We want to provide opportunities to level the playing field, and supporting young people into work is one way we can do that.

If you’d like to get involved with our work on Diversity and Inclusion in STEM, get in touch.