Challenging different forms of bias in physical science and engineering research - Comp Sci

Project: Externally funded research

Project Details


One of the key challenges in achieving an inclusive academic population in engineering and physical sciences is to address the difficulties faced by female, Black, Asian and Ethnic Minority and disabled people in starting and progressing in an academic research career, as a consequence of their identity and personal history in what remains a predominantly white, male environment. Evidence that such challenges exist include the analysis of selection rates for REF2014, where in Panel B, 76% of eligible men were selected, as opposed to 72% of eligible women Similar biases exist with Black, Asian and Ethnic Minority staff and disabled staff. Anecdotally, this can also be seen in levels of grant application and capture. The consequence is that these academics will face increased difficulties when it comes to promotion and career progression. Recent evidence shows that career development is a particular issue for female engineers with disabilities. ( ,

In this project, we seek to understand the kinds of bias that academics face; trace their causes; and propose innovative interventions aimed at tackling the underlying issues. We believe a multi-faceted approach is necessary, as it is unlikely that a single "magic bullet" exists to solve these problems.

Our approach is to combine rigorous research into academic value judgements, based on existing data and novel experiments, with the trialling of interventions aimed at different forms of bias and their effects, within the context of physical science and engineering. We will continuously monitor and review the results of these activities, to ensure lessons are learned throughout the process. The results from this EPS-focused study will be scaled up beyond the EPSRC funded project to University level, and rolled out via our consortium and through broader dissemination and training activities. To achieve these aims, we have put together a consortium comprising two universities (Birmingham and Aberystwyth); a large NHS hospital trust (University Hospitals Birmingham, UHB) and a consultancy firm specialising in research career development (Vitae).
Effective start/end date01 Nov 201830 Apr 2021


  • Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (LED BY BIRMINGHAM): £109,977.75


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