An article published in the journal Nature Geoscience has highlighted the under-representation of students from ethnic minority backgrounds in the geosciences.
Geology, Physical Geography and Environmental Science are the three Physical Science subjects with the lowest representation of Black, Asian and minority ethnic students in UK higher education.
New nationwide research, led by Sheffield Hallam University and supported by a team including Dr Rebecca Williams (pictured) at the University of Hull, found in the 2018/19 academic year just 5.2 per cent of Physical Geography postgraduates identified as Black, Asian or minority ethnic, despite these groups comprising 18.5% of the UK 18-24-year-old population.
Over the past five years, on average just 1.4% Geology postgraduate researchers identified as Black, compared to 3.8% of UK 18-24-year-olds.
The new research paper, which examined students in full-time undergraduate study in the UK, and their progression into postgraduate research, was released today in the Nature Geoscience journal.
Dr Rebecca Williams, Senior Lecturer in Geology at the University of Hull, is a co-author on the project.
She said: “While the lack of diversity in the geosciences has been documented before in the US, very little has been done to understand the barriers facing students from Black, Asian and other ethnic minority backgrounds looking to undertake postgraduate studies in the UK.
“What this report has done is expose the extent of those barriers. Some of the statistics we discovered were shocking, and highlighted the scale of the changes which must be made to balance our curriculum and subjects, and provide better opportunities to people from all backgrounds.
“Moving forwards, we must remove the bias and hostile environments that have led to inequality in our discipline, attract researchers from a variety of backgrounds and retain them throughout their careers.”