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IOP Council appoints Representative on Inclusion and Diversity and publishes case for greater inclusion in physics

24 November 2021

Professor Helen Gleeson appointed to new role with the aim of providing inclusion and diversity advice to Council and the IOP more widely.


The Institute of Physics’ (IOP) governing Council has appointed Professor Helen Gleeson to the new role of Representative to Council for Inclusion and Diversity.

The role has been created to provide advice and challenge to Council and the IOP more widely on inclusion and diversity issues. The Representative will attend up to two Council meetings a year and chair the Inclusion and Diversity Committee.

The IOP has also published ‘The importance of equality, diversity and inclusion in physics’, a document setting out the benefits of greater diversity and inclusion in physics and what people can do to support this goal.

Professor Gleeson, the new Representative to Council for Inclusion and Diversity, is Cavendish Professor of Physics in the School of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Leeds. She is also Chair of the IOP’s Bell Burnell Graduate Scholarship Fund, which provides financial support to enable students from under-represented groups to undertake PhDs in physics.

Professor Helen Gleeson, IOP Representative to Council for Inclusion and Diversity

Professor Helen Gleeson

Professor Sheila Rowan, President of the IOP, said: “When I became President last month, I made clear improving diversity and inclusion in physics would be a priority for me, so I am delighted to be able to appoint to this important new role so quickly, and to welcome Helen to the role.

“Throughout her career, Helen has promoted inclusivity in the university departments where she has worked, both for women and other under-represented groups, and sought to encourage the broadest range of people into physics. I am confident her passion for improving inclusivity and her insights will challenge Council to do all we can to make our community a welcoming and supportive place for people from all backgrounds.

“I also hope that by publishing a document setting out the case for greater inclusion and diversity, we help people understand the benefits of making physics more representative of society, and what they can do to help.”

IOP President Sheila Rowan

Professor Sheila Rowan

Professor Gleeson said: “My personal experience as a woman from a comprehensive school in academic physics has given me a valuable perspective on the challenges that people from non-traditional backgrounds can face in our discipline. But I am acutely aware that I have much to learn from others about their experiences and how we can make physics more inclusive.

“That is why my priority will be to meet and listen to other people who share my passion for opening up physics to the whole of society, and work with them to bring demonstrable change wherever physics is practised – in universities and research institutions, businesses and schools.”

Professor Gleeson can be contacted in her capacity as Representative to Council for Inclusion and Diversity on [email protected].

In common with many other IOP roles, the Representative to Council for Inclusion and Diversity is part-time and unremunerated except for repayment of expenses. This is in line with Charity Commission guidance.

The appointment of Professor Gleeson was made by a panel of Council members following an advertisement and application process managed by an external recruitment consultancy.

A video message from Professor Helen Gleeson about taking on the role of Representative to Council for Inclusion and Diversity

A video message from our President, Professor Sheila Rowan, about the new appointment