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Diversity and inclusion

Making the physics community more welcoming and supportive for people from all backgrounds.


Making the physics community more representative of society is one of the core goals of the IOP, set out in our latest strategy document. We want people from all backgrounds to make physics a satisfying career, whether in education, research, healthcare, industry or business. We know that for physics to help solve the challenges facing us today in healthcare, the environment, and the economy, we need to draw on talent, insights and perspectives from all parts of society. 

We have been working to understand and remove barriers to wider participation in physics since 2006, but we recognise the world of physics still has further to go. 

Below we set out our current initiatives on this vitally important topic.

Giving voice to inclusion

We recognise that our members, and non-members, have important insights to contribute to this vital goal. For this reason, in late 2020 we undertook a far-reaching programme of engagement with our members and other people with relevant experience both inside and outside physics. We held focus groups, one-to-one interviews and a undertook a survey of all our members and staff. The outputs of the programme were considered by Council at its February meeting and are now being used to inform activity plans being drawn up by the IOP executive team to drive forward our core goal of making our community more welcoming and supportive for people from all backgrounds.

IOP Awards – past, present and future

Our awards have long celebrated exceptional achievements in physics and this will continue to be the core focus of the awards. We are keen to ensure we recognise excellence everywhere in physics and our awards have expanded in recent years from celebrating pure research to encompass those working in education, industry and business, technician roles, apprentices and those who reach out to the wider community. This year we are making it possible to self-nominate to almost all of our awards, to ensure people from all parts of the physics community have a fair chance of being recognised for their achievements.  

IOP Awards analysed by gender over time

As part of our commitment to making physics more representative of wider society, we have analysed the gender balance of our past awards, and we are making all the data available.

Gender has been the main focus of our diversity work over the last few years, however we recognise that gender is only one element of diversity and are looking at how we address this in an appropriate and proportionate way. 

Other initiatives

Limit Less

Limit Less is our new campaign to support young people to change the world and fulfil their potential by doing physics.

Find out more and join the campaign

Project Juno

Project Juno aims to recognise and reward departments and schools of physics institutes and organisations that can demonstrate they have taken action to address gender equality in physics and to encourage better practice for all staff.

Find out more

Athena Forum

The Athena Forum was established in 2007/8 and is an independent committee supported by the Royal Society to help inform the wider debate on diversity in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine (STEMM).

Find out more on the Athena Forum website

Diversity and Inclusion Progression Framework for Science and Engineering

The D&I Progression Framework was developed in a collaboration between the Royal Academy of Engineering (Academy) and the Science Council to progress diversity and inclusion (D&I) across 63 engineering and science professional bodies. The IOP are a signatory of this framework and regularly participate in the benchmarking exercise.

Find out more about the framework from the Science Council

Download the booklet resource from the Science Council website (PDF, 3.5MB)

Find out more about the framework from the Royal Academy of Engineering

Gender Action programme

An award programme created in partnership with King's College London, UCL Institute of Education and the University Council of Modern Languages, has a collection of resources, reports and guidance to help challenge gender stereotypes in schools. 

Find out more on the Gender Action website

IOP Carers' Fund

Up to £250 for members who could not otherwise go to an event or conference because they are a parent or carer.

Find out more about the fund

LGBT+ Physics Sciences Network

Formed in 2016 the LGBT+ Physical Scientists Network brings together members from IOP, the Royal Astronomical Society and the Royal Society of Chemistry with a mission to better drive LGBT+ diversity and inclusion within membership organisations.
 

Find out more

STEM Disability Committee

We are a founding member of the STEM Disability Committee, a collaborative group of professional bodies committed to finding practical ways to removing the barriers to disabled people studying and working in STEM.

 

Find out more on the STEM Disability Committee website

Key reports

Inquiry into Equity in the STEM Workforce

This report, released by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Diversity and Inclusion in STEM, outlines the evidence on where equity and inequity exists in the STEM workforce, and highlights areas of positive sector-led initiatives and practices.

Download the report from the British Science Association website (PDF, 12MB)
We are physicists. Results of the IOP member diversity study 2019.

Our latest members' diversity snapshot survey: 'We are physicists'

This report is the third of a series of surveys of our members to help us understand who makes up our membership, their characteristics and some of the issues that they face.

Read the introduction and download the report

Technicians: Providing frontline and vital support for student mental health and wellbeing

This report outlines the extent to which technicians are pastorally supporting students and offers a number of recommendations to the higher education and research sector, individual employers and to technicians themselves, in order to ensure that all involved are fully supported.

Download the report (PDF, 836 KB)

Building momentum towards inclusive teaching and learning

This good practice guide in undergraduate physics undertaken in 2017 was to identify good practice in teaching and learning already adopted by physics departments and share this with others in the sector.

Download the guide (PDF, 1MB)

Raising Aspirations in Physics

This report reviews research into barriers to STEM participation for students from disadvantaged backgrounds, and provides five recommendations to improve educational attainment. 

Download the report (PDF, 598KB)

Opportunities from Physics: Interventions in a multi-ethnic school to increase post-16 participation

From 2009 to 2011 we ran a pilot project to determine which science enhancement and enrichment activities were most effective in stimulating black and ethnic minority students' enjoyment of physics.

The lessons learnt from the pilot are in the report Opportunities from Physics.

Download the report (PDF, 511KB)
Mapping the Future: Survey of Chemistry and Physics Postdoctoral Researchers’ Experiences and Career Intentions

IOP/RSC postdoctoral researcher survey

This joint Institute of Physics and Royal Society of Chemistry project conducted in 2011 investigated the experiences and career intentions of postdoctoral researchers in UK physics and chemistry departments.

Download the full report (PDF, 855KB)

External resources

Advance HE

Advance HE supports the higher education sector to realise the potential of all staff and students, whatever their race, gender, disability, sexual orientation, religion and belief, or age, to the benefit of those individuals, higher education institutions and society.

Athena SWAN Charter: recognising advancement of gender equality: representation, progression and success for all.

Race Equality Charter: improving the representation, progression and success of minority ethnic staff and students within higher education.

Equality and Human Rights Commission

The Equality and Human Rights Commission is to help Britain develop in a way that values the ideals that most of us hold dear – respect, freedom, equality, dignity and fairness.

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Stonewall

Founded in 1989 by a small group of people who had been active in the struggle against Section 28 of the Local Government Act, Stonewall works to achieve equality and justice for lesbians, gay, bi and trans people (LGBT+).

The WISE Campaign

The Women Into Science and Engineering (WISE) campaign collaborates with industry and education to encourage UK girls of school age to value and pursue STEM or construction related courses in school or college, and to move on into related careers.