Our audience model was created to be a simple-to-use tool for the British Science Association (BSA) to understand our audiences and measure our progress.

We use it internally in the evaluation of our programmes which have an adult audience. The data we obtain by basing questions on the audience groups gives us an indication of whether the work we carry out is engaging people with science, and how well or not we’re doing it.

We have segmented our audience into four groups, based on people’s feelings towards and views of science:

  • Professionals - people who study, produce or curate scientific knowledge 
  • Engaged - people who are enthusiastic about science and seek it out
  • Inactive - people who tell us they are interested in science but do not actively seek it out
  • Not interested - people who see science as ‘not for me’.

We appreciate this is a simple model and these categories are extremely broad. We know people don’t fit neatly into four categories, but this provides a starting point for understanding what our audience want from us and other science-related activities.

No longer a journey

Previously, we used the model to measure how many people moved from left to right, as a result of (or at least partially) our programmes.

Now, however, it’s mainly used internally so we better understand our audiences’ sentiment towards science at the moment that they interact with us. Of course, that’s not our only aim in delivering British Science Week, the British Science Festival, CREST and our other work, but it signals whether our work is making science more relevant and connected to society.

What else do we use?

The model is just one of a few tools we use in understanding our audiences, evaluating our work and developing our programmes. The following are other resources and data we refer to:

Research by the BSA

We make use of our own research and findings to define the audiences for our programmes. For example, we have found:

  • Disabled people of all ethnicities are underrepresented in the STEM workforce and, while a majority of non-STEM disabled workers are female (59%), only one-third (33%) of STEM disabled workers are female
  • Opportunities for science engagement are inequitable across the UK. We identified a large number of ‘cold spots’ where the provision of science engagement is relatively low compared to big cities. These tend to be (but aren’t all) coastal and rural areas and former industrial heartlands

Our research shows that people in the 'Engaged' and 'Professional' groups are more likely to be male, White, hold a degree-level qualification, and have higher household incomes than people in the 'Inactive' and 'Not interested' groups. Therefore, as well as focusing our attention towards 'Inactive' and 'Not interested', it’s crucially important that our activities are inclusive to historically marginalised people and communities.

Science identity

Science identity, the extent to which an individual relates to science, is one aspect of peoples’ identity to take into account when planning engagement activities. However, where an activity could be appropriate for a person's science identity, it may be inappropriate for their age, location, or cultural background.

The Equity Compass

Designed by the YESTEM project, The Equity Compass is a reflective tool for examining equity and power relationships in engagement. We find that the “working with and valuing minoritised communities” segment works well when thinking about audiences.

The Michigan Public Engagement Framework

Michigan Public Engagement Framework to help us think about audience voice and influence in BSA programmes. The framework helps us ask questions like “how effective are our ways of listening to our audience’s views?” and “what is the audience’s decision-making authority?”

Equality Impact Analysis

Equality Impact Analysis is a tool for identifying and tackling barriers for people and communities which have traditionally been underrepresented or disadvantaged. We use it to assess the perceived impact (positive or negative) BSA programmes or policies might have on protected groups.

We use evidence from our programme evaluations along with publicly available data such as local demographics, and best practice guidance like Disability Confident to assess potential impact on each of the nine protected characteristics listed in the Equality Act 2010, plus any relevant additional characteristics (like geographical location, digital access, science identity, political opinion, socioeconomic status).