The BSA believes that, for too long, science has been the preserve of professional scientists. We believe science should be open to everyone, regardless of background or experience.

We know there are persistent structural barriers to equality in many areas of UK society, culture and work, and we believe that transforming the diversity and inclusivity of science can play a part in tackling them.

Putting equality, diversity and inclusion at the heart of all that we do

In 2018, after consulting with staff, volunteers and external stakeholders we changed the British Science Association’s mission to ‘transform the diversity and inclusivity of science’.

There many dimensions of diversity and we need to consider how different groups of people conceptualise things and ask questions that make sense to them. Our aim is to be able to understand the meanings and values that people use to interact with their world, so that we reframe what counts as science, and begin to change the relationship people have with it.

Alongside the protected characteristics in the Equality Act, we’ll consider many other aspects of people’s lives, such as socioeconomic background, social class and cultural engagement. We will take an intersectional approach and we are undertaking in-depth research to understand the challenges and opportunities for different audiences. 

For our vision to come to fruition, we need to make science part of everyone's culture, including those who are currently least engaged. We need to be able to engage with people in groups that are poorly represented in science, and that’s why EDI needs to be central to our activities.

This signals a change in direction for the BSA; we will strive to put equality, diversity and inclusion at the heart of everything we do.

Our EDI action plan

We have drawn up an EDI action plan (for use internally, as a way to outline detailed objectives and track our progress, and to discuss with our EDI Advisory Group) that sets out the BSA's commitment to EDI both in our external activities as well as what we are doing internally to improve our own culture and capabilities in this area.

Some activities are part of our programmes, while others are part of our underpinning structures and policies.

The BSA’s three objectives for our work on EDI over the next three years are:

  1. Develop our staff and internal systems to ensure the BSA reflects the society we want to see, and develops inclusive culture and policies;
  2. Change our programmes to increase their relevance to audiences who are traditionally under-represented in science engagement activities, and empower people to run science engagement activities for their networks and communities;
  3. Influence other organisations and individuals in the science engagement to sector to develop and improve their EDI practices in capability and audience development to reach new audiences.

We recognise that in many settings, at the BSA and beyond, EDI can be seen as an add-on or ‘fix’ to the regular work. Our aim is for EDI aims to be embedded in our future strategy (we will soon start planning our 2021-2023 business plan), so there is no need for a stand-alone EDI Action Plan.   

This work has been catalysed by the Sustaining Excellence grant we received from the Wellcome Trust to accelerate our progress in improving our diversity and inclusion.  

Internal and external transformation of the scale we are hoping to achieve will not happen overnight, and – because our EDI goals extend to our values and behaviours – we will strive to be a visible leader in this area; committed to collecting, using and disseminating evidence, and transparent about our own journey. 

For more information on the BSA's action plan, please contact our Chief Executive, Katherine Mathieson, on: [email protected]  

1) Our staff and systems

We want the BSA to be more representative of UK society – in terms of protected characteristics, socio-economic class and science identity. Our goal is for our workforce diversity to match the location(s) in which we’re based – currently, to be representative of London - and for all our staff to report that the BSA is an inclusive place to work.

The BSA strives to be a fair employer, offering employment and volunteering opportunities to a range of people. We believe that having staff and volunteers at all levels from a wide range of backgrounds and skills will help produce ideas and solutions that may not come from a smaller range of groups. A diverse workforce and volunteer pool can also help us better understand and meet the needs of diverse audience groups, and thus create events and programmes that raise the diversity of our audiences.

We endeavour to provide equality and fairness for all our staff and volunteers and to create a working environment that promotes dignity and respect for all, where individual differences and the contributions of all staff and volunteers are recognised and valued. We regularly monitor the make-up and satisfaction of our staff and volunteers and will make reasonable adjustments for people with disabilities.

2) Our programmes

We aim for the BSA’s programmes to be increasingly effective at engaging communities who are under-represented in science. Our goal is to diversify the audiences reached, year-on-year for each programme, and to increase the effectiveness of our programmes using evidence and evaluation.

We want our programmes to be inclusive and to reach diverse audiences. Below are some examples of how we are doing this:

3) Influencing and learning from others

We are committed to both influencing the science engagement and beyond, as well as learning from our peers and best practice in this area. Activities that we have undertaken over the past year, include: