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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/S011927/1
Title: Challenging different forms of bias in physical science and engineering research
Principal Investigator: Softley, Professor T
Other Investigators:
Riley, Professor SCE Rowe, Professor JE Passam, Mrs S
Zarges, Dr C Duberley, Professor J Martin, Professor U
Stewart, Dr B
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
University Hospitals Birmingham NHS FT Vitae
Department: Vice Chancellors Office
Organisation: University of Birmingham
Scheme: Standard Research - NR1
Starts: 01 November 2018 Ends: 30 April 2021 Value (£): 531,287
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
No relevance to Underpinning Sectors
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
07 Jun 2018 Inclusion Matters Panel Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
One of the key challenges in achieving an inclusive academic population in engineering and physical sciences is to address the difficulties faced by female, BAME 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 BAME 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. (http://www.ref.ac.uk/2014/equality/edapreport/ , https://www.ecu.ac.uk/publications/asset-2016-by-discipline/)

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).

Key Findings
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Potential use in non-academic contexts
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Date Materialised
Sectors submitted by the Researcher
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Project URL:  
Further Information:  
Organisation Website: http://www.bham.ac.uk