Today (8 March), Labour have announced their commitment to publish a cross-government action plan to break down barriers in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) if they form the next government. Labour states that the action plan would set a clear direction for government policy around diversity in STEM and would make improving equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) in STEM central to work across government.

Announcing the plan, Chi Onwurah MP, Shadow Minister for Science, Research, and Innovation and Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Diversity and Inclusion in STEM, declared that making the most of everyone’s talent in science was an “economic imperative” that would “supercharge innovation, jobs and growth across the country”.

In the BSA’s recent election manifesto, we called on all political parties to commit to embedding EDI in their plans for improving the STEM sector ahead of the next general election. A continued lack of diversity in the STEM workforce will harm the UK’s efforts to move towards a lower-carbon, innovation-led economy. We believe that using science investments to tackle the exclusion of groups including, women, Black people, disabled people and the LGBTQ+ community, will help in addressing these skills shortages, bring more innovation, and create more equitable economic opportunity. 

Therefore, the BSA welcomes this announcement from Labour, and believe it is a big step in the right direction to help tackle inequity and lack of representation in the STEM sector. We would encourage other political parties to make similar pledges ahead of the next general election to ensure we can take cross-government action no matter who forms the next government.

Clio Heslop, Head of Policy, Partnerships and Impact at the BSA, says:

“I am delighted to see this commitment from the Labour party ahead of the next general election. The BSA’s mission is to ensure that all of society is included in science, yet we know that is not currently the case. 

“As we celebrate International Women’s Day and the start of British Science Week today, it feels like a fitting moment for us to recognise the untapped potential in the UK’s STEM workforce. Through the BSA’s work as secretariat for the APPG on Diversity and Inclusion in STEM, we have seen that many parts of the STEM sector continue to lag behind on diversity and inclusion. The opportunities in STEM careers are patchy and inequitable across different parts of the UK.

“Therefore, we are particularly supportive of a cross-government approach in opening up STEM careers for everyone, as experience has shown us, we need a joined-up commitment from all parties to effect change.”  

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