Ongoing diversity initiatives

The Academy undertakes a range of practical initiatives to encourage diversity and equality of opportunity in biomedical and health research and in our own work:

  • Two permanent members of the Academy's Council hold the role of Diversity Champions, advising the Academy and leading on the development of new initiatives. The Academy's current Diversity Champions are Professor Dame Jessica Corner DBE FMedSci and Professor David Lomas FMedSci 
  • Our Fellowship committee, chaired by the Registrar Professor Philippa Saunders FMedSci, reviews the election process each year to ensure that the pool of candidates proposed for election to the Academy is drawn from the breadth of medical science, and is as diverse as possible.
  • Recognising the challenges that women researchers face in the early stages of an independent research career, the Academy developed a flagship programme of mentorship, leadership training and bespoke career support to help women researchers thrive in their independent careers. The SUSTAIN programme  has as been described as “invaluable” by participants and has recently secured funding for a further three cohorts, meaning that by 2021 we will have supported 100 women on their journey to break through the glass ceiling and move into leadership positions in science.
  • Women in the media: The Academy is committed to helping reach gender parity in media coverage of medical science. In 2014 the ratio of men to women experts commenting on medical news and current affairs programmes was 4:1 – today, the figure stands at around 2:1. Through an intensive media training package, we have supported 107 women since 2014 to engage with the media, with participants going on to do interviews as a result in high profile news outlets including Today programme, BBC NewsWoman’s HourTelegraphBBC World ServiceThe MirrorThe Life ScientificThe Guardian, BBC Health Online and Huffington Post. Our work in this area won the 2018 Royal Society Athena Prize, awarded biannually to those who have contributed most to the advancement of diversity within their scientific communities.
  • Our #MedSciLife campaign brings together personal stories of those working in medical and health research to promote different working practices and explore how passions and achievements outside work can influence careers. 
  • We have produced a briefing note on unconscious bias for committees electing new Fellows, and we also provide unconscious bias training to mentors and mentees at our mentoring masterclasses.
  • Our Careers Team work with NIHR to organise regular career development webinars, with topics including unconscious bias in the mentoring relationship. We welcome suggestions for future topics; please get in touch with the Academy Careers Team.
  • The Academy regularly monitors and reports on gender, ethnicity and disability across the organisation in our annual diversity report, publically available online. We continue to support staff to better collect and report data and so enable a true assessment of the Academy's current position.
  • We are working to increase Black, Asian, and minority ethnic researcher representation on Academy decision-making committees. These committtes includes internal governance structures, grants panels, and policy working groups. Through supporting staff to better monitor and understand the data on their committees in relation to the sectors in which their work is focused, we aim to encourage ourselves to actively notice and seek BAME representation where currently it is lacking. In particular, we are seeking to reduce the number of all-white committees across our work.
  • The Academy actively collaborates with external diversity forums such as the EDIS network (Equality, Diversity and Inclusion in Science and Health Research Network). We also work in partnership with the other National Academies, the Royal Colleges and learned societies to support their diversity initiatives. 

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