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Supporting diversity and excellence in IOP Awards

The IOP Awards celebrate brilliant physics everywhere. Find out how we’re working to make sure our awards reflect the diversity and excellence of the whole physics community and read more about our awards EDI data.

Brilliant physics is everywhere

The IOP Awards exist to make sure brilliant physics everywhere can shine. Our awards celebrate excellence in technicians, researchers, teachers and innovators – in every part of the UK and Ireland, as well as around the world.

To celebrate the very best in physics, we need to attract nominations from right across the physics community which highlight the achievements of physicists from a truly diverse range of backgrounds.

We particularly want to receive more nominations for women, people from ethnic minorities, disabled people, LGBT+ people and people from disadvantaged backgrounds, as they’ve been less likely to be nominated in previous years.

Doing more to highlight brilliance everywhere

We’ve made some changes to our awards process in recent years to help us attract nominations for under-represented groups within the physics community. In 2020, we introduced self-nomination, improved our diversity data, and began publicising the IOP Awards in an even wider range of places.

As part of our commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI), we make available data from all past IOP Awards. From the 2021 Awards onwards, we have asked all nominees to voluntarily submit EDI information to help us continue to ensure they include the whole physics community. We’re really pleased to have received EDI information for 74% of nominees in our 2022 Awards, up from 63% in our 2021 Awards.

This year, we’ll be introducing new guidance on how to create a strong nomination to support nominees and nominators who are less familiar with an awards process or have less support to make a nomination.

Diversity in the 2022 IOP Awards

Our EDI data helps us see where we’re making progress towards an awards programme that is reflective of the diversity within physics and within society as a whole – and where we need to focus our efforts for the future. In 2022, while saw strong levels of nominations and winners from some under-represented groups, such as women, there were fewer nominations and winners from others, such as those from ethnic minority backgrounds.

In 2022, 32% of award winners providing gender information to us were women – about the same proportion as in 2021. By comparison, 19% of academic staff in UK physics departments are women. The Isaac Newton Medal and Prize was this year awarded to Dr Margaret Murnane, the first woman to win the Prize since 2014. Two out of the six Gold Medal and Prize winners were women, and 28% of our Honorary Fellows cohort are women, up from 10% in 2010.

Our awards were also more regionally diverse this year. Overall, 61% of nominees and 68% of winners are from outside of London or the South East of England, compared to 39% of winners last year.

In other areas, we are less reflective of the diversity within physics and society. This year, we were pleased to see that 81% of award winners provided ethnicity information, up from 62% in 2021 – giving us a better picture of the ethnic diversity of our awards than we’ve had before.

However, only 11% of nominees and 8% of winners are from an ethnic minority background – compared to 19% of winners in 2021 and 19% of UK academic physics staff. Nominations were particularly low this year for physicists from a Black or Asian background. We’re also keen to receive more nominations for LGBTQ+ physicists – 98% of nominees in 2022 were straight, compared with 89% of our membership.

Our 2024 Awards

Nominations are now closed for the 2024 IOP Medals and Prizes. Our other award categories will be opening for nominations during February and March. Find out more about changes to our awards and timetables for other award openings.

We rely on you and the physics community to help us recognise the brilliant physics everywhere around us. You don’t have to be an IOP member to take part.

Take a look at our fantastic 2023 winners for inspiration and consider nominating yourself or a colleague for an award in the future.

If you have any questions, you can get in touch with us at [email protected].

To find out more about our work to support a more inclusive environment in physics, take a look at our diversity and inclusion page.