IOP and Diversity and Inclusion
10 July 2020
Over the past week or so we have received some questions and challenges about IOP’s approach to diversity and inclusion, our ambitions and our actions so far in this area. We wanted to share these together with our thoughts and reflections on the questions raised, and in particular to respond to points that were passed on to us by the publication Research Fortnight.
If you have further comments on any of this you can send those to the IOP’s Diversity Team at [email protected]. We will update this section with any new questions and responses over the coming weeks.
- Our membership
- Our fellowship
- Our committees
- Our volunteers
- Making space for reflection
- IOP and Juno
- IOP and diversity and inclusion
- IOP and gender
- IOP and ethnicity
- IOP and disability
- IOP and LGBT+
- IOP and language
- IOP and professional conduct
- IOP and scientific publishing
As of July 2020, our overall membership stands at 17% female and 83% male. Less than 1% of members self-identified as ‘other’, did not say, or their gender was unknown and they are not reflected in our figures; therefore, in some membership grades, the total percentage is not exactly equal to 100%. The female membership sits at 25% Associate Member, 17% Member and 8% Fellows; our current application figures for 2020 show that 15% of applicants for fellowship are from women.
It can be difficult to meaningfully assess whether our membership figures are representative of the wider physics community as we must first define what we mean by ‘the wider physics community’. Therefore, we have benchmarked our data against two communities: other professional bodies, and published Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) data. The closest data we could find for a sector benchmark for staff in professional bodies and learned societies comes from the Royal Academy of Engineering and the Science Council benchmarking framework for professional bodies.
The Progression Framework report from the Royal Academy of Engineering and the Science Council found on average females comprised 13% of professional engineering institutions’ membership compared with 5.2% of the professional engineering register, and, on average, females comprised 34% of scientific body membership with 34% on professional registers. It should be noted that scientific bodies varied widely in their gender representation (particularly those in the biological sciences) and we believe that the profile of the engineering community is more reflective of the physics community as it stands at present.
In order to compare against HESA categories, we have used our member data by study or work status that has been provided by our members themselves.
|Associate Member (Undergraduate)
|Undergraduate first degree in physics
|Studying PhD Physics
|All academic staff
|Professors in UK physics departments
Our latest diversity report on our membership will be published in September 2020, which will give us a helpful insight into the broader diversity of our membership and help to inform our programmes of work. This is part of a time series of reports that provide valuable information for both ourselves and the membership which can be found on our website. We are also collecting the latest data on all our activities and committees for our own Juno resubmission, and in preparation for the science and engineering progression framework’s benchmarking exercise at the end of the year. As part of our own Juno action plan, we have long-standing plans to make all this data available in a dashboard report alongside the membership survey, which we will keep up to date.
We can see that in most areas we are almost at or above national averages for females at most levels of academia except for our membership category of Fellow. We are very concerned about these low figures, and the pace of change. We have made this a priority in our new strategy as part of what we call our Ecosystem programme. We can assume that there is a greater pool of women working within senior science roles that are not Fellows. In response to this we conducted a full review of our fellowship guidelines and application form, with the aim of improving their accessibility with more inclusive language to especially encourage applications from women, teachers and from industry. This included consultation with our Diversity and Inclusion and Education teams. The resulting guidelines are now on our website and sent to potential applicants. We reworded all criteria, adding three new criteria, providing assisting guidance for each in order to encompass a wider pool for fellowship. In addition to the fellowship criteria, we will also ensure unconscious-bias materials are discussed by the fellowship panels to reflect on the impact of unconscious bias in their decision-making, ensuring all panel members are fully trained and supported.
Our groups, branches and committees are member-led, autonomous entities, but we fund their work and provide help and support where we can. We recognise that members will hold differences of opinion and when people are passionate about issues these can be expressed passionately. However, we are always saddened to hear when disagreements lead to a break-down of communication, and where we can we are always ready to offer help and support in working through this. Our Group Officers’ Forum is also a place where challenges and concerns can be raised and reflected on. If you have concerns, please contact [email protected].
We are always looking to improve the support we give to all our members that volunteer. We are very conscious that they give so much of their time and show dedication and passion for our work, and we would not be able to deliver all of what we do without that active support. Recently we attended meetings, at their invitation, of the Women in Physics Group and the Optical Group, which have helped us to reflect on where improvements can be made.
As we mentioned in our statement for diversity and inclusion, we believe the key to achieving greater diversity in physics is by working together at all levels within the organisation and community. That means ensuring that we are all listening to a range of voices and talking through these issues together. We know these conversations might sometimes be difficult and potentially, at times, uncomfortable, challenging our own views and biases. But that is how we move forward and start to create the change that we all want to see.
We are hugely fortunate at the IOP that we have a large amount of volunteer effort to support the programmes. We never take that for granted and we are always looking at ways to support our volunteers, to reduce unnecessary administration and to help them focus on doing what they enjoy and feel the most rewarded from. We are in the process of recruiting new roles in both the regions and the nations to provide additional support on the ground to the volunteer effort. This is to ensure that our volunteers feel valued when giving their time, efforts and passion on behalf of or in support of the IOP.
We are keen to work with all the under-represented groups within the community who have faced barriers and discrimination through their careers, being cautious not to exploit this experience and respecting the emotional upheaval of sharing painful experiences. This is a balance that we aim to meet working closely with those who can be involved. Very shortly we will be writing to members about this and how that will support the work of our new Influencing Campaign.
We are conscious of the fact that we cannot achieve our strategic goals without the support of the physics community and our members, and we know that we must work together to drive and bring about the change that we want to see. That means our programmes must be relevant, open to review and impactful in a way that those who are able to give their time can feel a real and tangible sense that they are making a difference.
Making space for reflection
Despite the regular reviews and reflection we have on our own work through our internal audits and business process improvements, we try very hard not to be complacent when issues are raised with us.
We understand the concerns raised over recent weeks and the passion for seeing faster change, which we all share. There are lots of common but also contrasting views and opinions, so we will want to take time to reflect on what we have heard from everyone who has shared their thoughts, and those we have still to hear from.
As part of the new strategy we are working on defining our organisational values, ‘Objective, Open, Inclusive and Exemplary’, which is important in shaping the culture of our organisation – this is a piece of work owned and led by staff from across the organisation. They are looking closely at how we reflect both our personal and our organisational values. Recently, the team published their first report which focused on areas that are key to us all who work at the IOP: be objective, and evidence led; confront barriers to inclusiveness and participation, wherever we encounter them; exemplify the highest standards in all we do; and be rewarding, open and engaging to partner with. This sets out how we will work with each other and with all who work with us.
In support of these values we have outlined specific behaviours focusing on areas such as evaluating work, incorporating successes and failures and seeking input. We know that we have some way to go to realise all of these, but we are working as a staff team to understand what they mean in practice for everyone at the IOP, and how we can all start to embody them better in all that we do. Although this is an internal piece of work, we will be happy to share information about our work in case anyone would like to know more or compare with similar work in their own organisations.
Additionally, by putting ourselves through the IOP Juno Practitioner process (which we say more about later), we were able to take the time to identify and reflect on many areas in which the IOP needs to improve. Without this, we do not think we are a credible keeper of the core principles that form such an important part of the Juno programme. As a result, we have created an ambitious three-year action plan that we are making good progress on. We know that we have further to go, and that after the three years we will still have more work to do but are proud to have carried out that exercise and the direction it has helped us set out.
In 2019 we undertook an internal audit of our governance, which we felt was overly bureaucratic, and unnecessarily complex and burdensome on our volunteers. Following that audit, at its meeting in February 2020, Council began a review to make sure that the governance structure is fit for a modern, forward-looking organisation and that members had a stronger voice and more direct input to Council and the elected trustees. That review is now well underway and, this autumn, we will be sharing the early ideas with our committees to hear their feedback and early thoughts. We expect this review to make its first report to Council this November.
Our trustees and staff team are always ready to engage and hear feedback and criticism on our programmes of work. It is through collective critique and shared wisdom and best practice that we move all these things forward. We do hold regular sessions where we take feedback from the community and Council holds its meetings once a year across the nations and regions. The governance review which began in 2019 is already looking at how we strengthen the member voice, so the elected members of Council have that important connection with the membership. As part of that review, we will shortly be embarking on a consultation with members who currently serve on all our committees to hear their views.
IOP and Juno
Integrity and openness are at the heart of everything we do at the IOP. We firmly believe in equality of opportunity for all, confronting barriers to inclusiveness and participation wherever we encounter them. These core values express who we are and how we behave as an organisation. We agree that we should not be asking of others what we would not be prepared to do. At the IOP, we believe we must hold ourselves to the same standard that we have set the wider physics community and, therefore, have put ourselves through one round of the Juno application process. We first want to achieve Juno Practitioner, moving onto Champion status, to demonstrate the action we have taken to address barriers and how we have embedded this within our organisational framework. We continuously encourage best practice and support for our staff in developing an equitable working culture from which all members and staff can benefit. It has taken us a while, as there was initially concern of how the IOP would go through what is in effect its own diversity and inclusion framework. For example, the IOP is a Group of 10 organisations (including publishing businesses in India, China, Russia, for example) and we have a lot of volunteer effort in helping to deliver programmes of work. The feedback we had from the Juno panel on our first submission was that we needed to be clearer which part of the IOP Group was submitting to the process and whether those volunteers would also be treated as part of the submission. So, we felt we should clarify that and that it would be simpler in the first instance to focus on IOP the charity and just to include the staff team and the work of the committees, in this first instance. We are pleased we were able to find a way to manage that process with the independency needed and overseen by the chair of the Juno panel.
Under normal circumstances we would have been submitting this revision to the April 2020 round of review, but we have had to put the Juno scheme on hold as a result of COVID-19. We will be submitting to the next available round, as soon as this opens again, and within our plan we will be stating our aim to become a Juno Champion within three years of achieving our first award. In the meantime, we have continued with implementing the work we set out in our Juno action plan.
We are keen to expand the Juno programme for all applicants, in order to improve diversity across all under-represented groups and ensure those groups do not face discrimination. The Juno panel has been reviewing the future development of Juno over this last year and is still reflecting on feedback from workshop sessions looking at ways we can improve Juno and its associated processes.
IOP and diversity and inclusion
Integrity and openness are at the heart of everything we do at the IOP. We firmly believe in equality of opportunity for all, confronting barriers to inclusiveness and participation wherever we encounter them. These core values express who we are and how we behave as an organisation.
In carrying out their work, Council and its committees consider the IOP’s vision for diversity and inclusion, working towards an inclusive, sustainable, diverse and vibrant physics community, and enabling all members to participate fully in our activities.
In support of that Council reviews the diversity of its sub-committees twice yearly, especially focusing on the diversity of skill and gender on each committee. Ahead of the Council election process, the Nominations Committee evaluates the balance of skills, knowledge, experience and diversity of Council, and, in the light of this evaluation, prepares a description of the capabilities desirable for candidates. The Nominations Committee has a specific diversity and inclusion champion, nominated by and coming from the Diversity and Inclusion Committee.
We established our Diversity Committee and Diversity Programme in 2004, primarily to address our members’ concerns about equality and progression for female physicists. At that time a Diversity Team with dedicated staff to progress our work was created. Since the diversity programme itself was established, it has grown and developed to become one of the leading national and international diversity in STEM programmes, covering a range of strands including (but not limited to) gender, LGBT+, disability, and ethnicity. From 2012, the team started to actively address how we embed diversity and inclusion internally within the IOP, as well as supporting our membership and our community.
We recognise that whilst we have come a long way, we still have a very long way to go. We know that we have made great progress in some areas, while others seem to remain the same. We will not be disheartened by slow progress but will continuously strive to create the change that we so passionately want to see. We recognise that we can only evolve when we involve others, and, therefore, will continue to work with our members, staff and partners, welcoming new voices, perspectives and experiences along the way.
We lobby on behalf of these wider issues on diversity and inclusion and have been active in lobbying UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) on diversity and inclusion issues both around publishing data and the linking of grant funding to diversity activity. We have also considered linking the funding of our own grants and degree accreditation to demonstrable commitment to diversity and inclusion awards or best-practice frameworks – we are planning to consult more on this is as part of our ‘Ecosystem programme’ but this has had mixed reviews to date from those in our own diversity and inclusion community. Additionally, we have been involved with the creation and supporting of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) Inclusion Matters projects, which have £5.5m to fund further equality, diversity and inclusion in engineering and physical sciences research.
IOP and gender
Gender has been a core focus of the IOP for at least the last 30 years. When we refer to gender, and especially when we refer to female, we encompass the widest possible meaning of the terms. We don’t interpret gender to be binary, although we recognise the importance of language and understand that we can be inconsistent and unclear with our usage. We know that whilst we have a legacy of engagement of supporting women in physics, we still have much more work to do, and our most recent honorary fellowship announcement shows that.
A good place to start when thinking about the current situation on gender diversity in physics is to look at our own membership where 17% of members identify as female. That’s one-third of the 51% it would be if our membership were to perfectly reflect the population of the UK and Ireland. For men or women who are Black, LGBT+, have a disability, or are from lower socio-economic backgrounds, membership rates are even further out of step with the population. At present, more boys than girls are studying physics in schools. So, the first step towards gender parity must be a dramatic increase in participation in physics for girls and young women.
We show our commitment throughout our organisation across all our teams. Gender equity is front and centre of the Education Team's work, especially. Our policy submissions always take into consideration gender issues and make requests that ensure equitable outcomes. Our work with teachers maintains a constant focus on inclusive teaching approaches based on a series of reports that can be traced back to the 2006 'Girls in the physics classroom' publications – a review of the research and a teachers' guide for action. Furthermore, we have embarked on large-scale projects aimed at improving gender balance in the uptake of physics at age 16 across our nations, developing interventions which address the biases and stereotyped expectations present in school and its wider community. The under-representation of girls in physics is a key element identified in our Influencing Campaign that we’ll be launching later in the year.
Just recently we wrote to qualifications and curricula authorities across the UK about the process of assessing grades for those not able to sit public examinations because of COVID-19. These letters highlighted our concerns that women may be disadvantaged if certain considerations were not accounted for in such assessments.
We are also the guardians of our flagship Juno awards scheme, which is designed 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. Becoming involved in Project Juno enables departments to work towards developing an equitable working culture in which all students and staff can achieve their full potential. From our evaluation of project Juno (PDF, 476KB) in 2013, over the first five years of operation we could see an increased awareness of staff and senior management in women in STEM issues, discussion on gender issues within departments and visibility of female staff. We are even more happy to report ("Academic staff in UK physics departments", PDF, 172KB) the change in female professorship from 6% in 2008 to 12% in 2018, although we are frustrated with the slow pace in progress.
We are continuing and expanding the Juno programme for all applicants, in order to improve diversity across all under-represented groups and ensure those groups do not face discrimination. We only support studies in a physics department, school or faculty that has either a Juno and/or an Athena SWAN award for applicants wishing to apply for our Jocelyn Bell Burnell Graduate Scholarship Fund.
In 2015, we undertook a review of our nominations and awards processes to attract more diversity in both our nominations and awards. We changed the names of some, so that 28% of our Gold, Silver and Bronze Medals and Prizes awards are now named after women, and we included people’s forenames in the awards to raise the visibility of these women. In order to encourage nominations from a diverse range of people, we now specifically encourage nominations from under-represented groups in all our literature. We also send out targeted emails encouraging these nominations. During the nominations process, the awards committee will only ask to see the nominees’ top 10 publications, in order to avoid discrimination against nominees that have taken career breaks. We have worked with the community and IOP Groups, to bring about a substantial increase in female nominations from a previous high of 12.7% in 2006 to 22-27% over the last five years. This is a key area where we must continually improve. We can all see that the diversity of nominations is not where we want it to be. Whilst gender has improved, (the number of nominations from) physicists who are Black or from another minority ethnic community has not improved, and even less so from females who are from these communities.
We analyse HESA data from a gender perspective ("Students in UK physics departments", PDF, 211KB), intersecting this with other diversity characteristics such as ethnicity and disability, to further explore the data and seek out those most marginalised. We share this information on our website, but also with our members, partners and with our university contacts through our awards programmes. Our student ambassadors work with gender-focused groups on campus, as well as our Juno committees in university departments. We have continued to support gender initiatives, and most recently signed a WISE initiative to keep gender on the agenda during COVID-19.
We attend the Athena Forum, established in 2007/8, which 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). The forum encourages discussion and the dissemination of examples of good practice in addressing the under-representation of women in academic STEMM, and the facilitation of exchanges between organisations and stakeholders with an interest in academic employment in higher education and research. We are also a signature and active participant in the Science and Engineering Community’s Diversity and Inclusion Progression Framework.
We have come a long way with our commitment to the gendered aspect of physics, but we have further to go. This is demonstrated in our strategy (PDF, 277KB) and our ambitious strategic aims to achieve girls making up at least 30% of those taking physics. We welcome facing up to the challenges ahead that targets like this pose and look for opportunities for partnership and collaboration in order to help us achieve this.
IOP and ethnicity
Historically our programmes have focused a lot on gender, but this is changing under the new strategy. The strategy recognises this is a key area where we must continually improve and is a significant challenge for our community. We can all see from the recent Honorary Fellows announcement that the diversity of nominations is not where we want it to be. Whilst gender has improved (currently 24% of our Honorary Fellows are female), physicists who are Black or are from another minority ethnic community has not improved and we must take action to change this.
We recognise the lack of ethnic diversity within physics and have challenging targets to increase the number of those from the BAME community coming into physics at schools and universities in our current strategy. This is published as a key success measure in our strategy and we will be reporting on progress against all the strategic targets every year. We are also partnering with new groups who have not engaged with the IOP before as part of our Influencing Campaign that we will be saying more about shortly.
Historically, between 2006 and 2008, together with the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC), the IOP published two reports (Representation of Ethnic Groups in Chemistry and Physics and Why choose physics and chemistry? The influences on physics and chemistry subject choices of BME students) investigating the participation of students from ethnic minority groups across the entire education spectrum. The research made several recommendations for increasing BME participation in physics.
From 2009 to 2011, we worked in partnership with a school that offered A-level physics that had a high proportion of students from ethnic minority groups, where 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. In 2014 we published a report ("Opportunities from Physics", PDF, 511KB) from this project that reflected on this programme and the impact of the recommendations. The learning from this is still part of what we do now.
We analyse HESA data from an ethnicity perspective ("Students in UK physics departments", PDF, 211KB) intersecting this with other diversity characteristics such as gender, to further explore the data and seek out those most marginalised. We share this information on our website, but also with our members, partners and with our university contacts through our Awards programmes. We have continued to support BAME groups using our building, our social media platforms, through funding and other channels.
To celebrate the breadth of our community, we have significantly increased our awards portfolio over the last five years: increasing awards for subject excellence, work in education, public engagement, technical roles, and very early career female researchers. We have also significantly expanded our business awards to recognise business innovation and support start-ups. We monitor gender, and geographical and institutional inclusion, so that we can address barriers and drive positive action with the aim that our community will be inclusive, reflecting the demographics of our society. But we are not yet collecting data on ethnicity, sexual orientation or disability. We have reflected on the challenges of doing this through a confidential nominations process and recognise that we can only do this retrospectively with award winners without breaching confidentiality. It is our intention to begin a voluntary survey amongst award winners, so we can at least start to compile data that we can compart with community benchmarks. We will share this once we have more information.
IOP and disability
The IOP is a founding member of the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) 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.
Our Building Accessibility Guide (PDF, 1.5MB) sets out our commitment to accessibility, highlighting the features of 37 Caledonian Road. This guide is used to provide an overview of the features and facilities of our building, which must be maintained and/or improved in order to ensure access for everyone. In 2018, we offered disability equality training to 40 IOP staff in decision-making or public-facing positions, in order to improve disability awareness within the organisation and in support of the events they are involved in organising.
The IOP works across the UK and Ireland to engage the public with physics by supporting our members to run events, working with partner organisations on shared goals. Inclusive practice is at the heart of everything we do; ranging from events for specific under-served audiences and long-running partnerships with community organisations, to the principles of accessibility and inclusion, which underpin our event and activity design process. Projects include, for the first time, the production of new Irish Sign Language signs in physics and design technology (the first of its kind) with Dublin City University, the production of a guide for academic staff on supporting STEM students with dyslexia, and a project looking at how to improve the Disabled Students’ Allowance needs assessments process for STEM students.
We have recently encountered some issues with accessibility for our online webinar series, which we have reflected on and are working with members of the community to ensure greater accessibility for all those wanting to engage. We strive to follow the principles of inclusion by design, but we recognise that we do not always get this right and are working to continue to improve our services to be as inclusive as possible. We also received criticism that our new online webinar series focused only on male physicists. Our programme was equally balanced between male and female speakers but we understand that the scheduling of the series (which depended on the availability of people at the start of lockdown) meant that we had several male speakers first followed by female speakers, and that it would have been better if we had been able to intersperse these webinars.
Our inclusive learning report (PDF, 1MB) from 2017 has also been very helpful in informing the support we offer to the community. It forms a guide to support university physics departments in disability good practice that we share with our members and through our contacts with accreditation and Juno awards schemes. We also analyse and share HESA disability data on our website (PDF, 211KB).
IOP and LGBT+
We began the first LGBT+ group in the physical sciences, which now also includes the Royal Astronomical Society (RAS) and the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC). The first meeting of the LGBT+ physicists’ and astronomers’ network took place in March 2016. This was an opportunity for members from both IOP and the RAS to share their thoughts about the support that professional membership organisations could offer and their experiences of current good practice about successful LGBT+ networks in their places of work and study.
As a result of this meeting the first survey of its kind was carried out in the UK and Ireland, to find out the experience of LGBT+ physical sciences teaching, studying and working climate. From this a report ("Exploring the workplace for LGBT+ physical scientists") was launched in June 2019 with a thorough analysis of both quantitative and qualitative data. We are particularly proud of the recommendations section towards the end of the report that offers practical actions for individuals, employers and learned societies to take to work towards a more inclusive workplace climate to retain our LGBT+ physicists.
We are of course working towards implementing these recommendations ourselves. As a start, we have gender-neutral toilets in our building, encourage our staff to include pronouns in their signatures and have pronoun stickers at conferences, meetings and events. We have supported Pride events at our London office and also across the regions, partnering and funding local campaigns and charities that support LGBT+ inclusion. We were proud to host the LGBT STEMinar in January 2019, as the first major event in our new 37 Caledonian Road building. However, we recognise that there is always more work to be done in this area, which is why we have highlighted both sexual orientation and gender identity as key under-represented groups in our Influencing Campaign. We look forward to partnering with groups already working in this area who can both add to the work of the team and extend our reach.
IOP and language
We understand how important language is in all that we do, but particularly in diversity and inclusion. We apologise for the offence a recent blog caused, that was not the intention. We share everyone’s ambition to ensure that the language used does not offend or exclude and aim to get this right in all we communicate. We know that language isn’t static, it evolves over time and, in some areas of diversity and inclusion, it’s changing at a fast pace. We will be sharing more information about our new Influencing Campaign that is focused on diversity and inclusion later in the year. Once this has been shared, we will then be able to share our own language guide that we are developing that will be created in partnership with our Diversity and Inclusion Committee and influenced by specialist guidance, to ensure consistency of understanding and use across all that we do.
IOP and professional conduct
We take matters of professional conduct very seriously at the IOP. In 2017, in response to high-profile cases within the astronomy community, we reviewed our work on harassment and bullying and agreed to act in this area. We have established a small working group of members from the Diversity and Inclusion Committee and the Membership Committee to oversee this work.
Last year, the IOP Code of Conduct was revised to include all IOP meetings, conferences and events. This now includes anyone in attendance; both members and non-members. All attendees are asked to sign up to this upon registration of a physical meeting or, more recently, online webinars. The Code is displayed on the registration desk at meetings, conferences and events as a reminder to participants, and is included in speaker and chair briefings. All members reaffirm their commitment to the Code through the annual renewal of their membership.
If you believe one of our members has breached the Code, you can submit queries or complaints via email to [email protected].
In 2016, we offered voluntary unconscious bias training to all staff and around 40 staff attended. This resulted in one team completely reviewing all its procedures to de-bias its processes. We recognise that unconscious-bias training cannot be a one-off event and needs to be revisited and refreshed regularly.
At the end of 2019 we asked questions around workplace culture and harassment in our membership diversity survey, which is run every four years. This has given us some benchmarking data and information to progress work in this area, and we hope will inform our strategic activities as part our 'Ecosystem programme'.
We were due to facilitate a workshop at the European Physical Society (EPS) Council meeting in April 2020, aiming to explore good practice in promoting effective anti-harassment and anti-bullying behaviours, with a focus on conferences and events. All EPS Member Societies were invited to attend and create action plans of their own to take away and implement. Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 challenges, this work has been postponed and we are now looking to move this online.
As addressing bullying and harassment is also now embedded in Project Juno principle 6, we will be able to disseminate good practice from our Juno Champions, and to run good-practice workshops. From our own IOP Juno application, we identified training as an area to address, which is listed in our action plan. We are looking at developing a training programme for members and especially those in positions of responsibility and decision-making. We recognise the importance of, and the need for, robust procedures in addressing bullying and harassment.
We regularly discuss these issues at the heads of university physics departments’ forum, carrying out bespoke workshops to engage the community in the difficulties of professional conduct, and how we can work as a community to ensure the respect, safety and progress of our colleagues free from bullying, harassment and discrimination.
IOP and scientific publishing
We first published a report on D&I in peer review (PDF, 1.4MB) in 2018, where we looked at the spread of our author, reviewer and board member gender and geography since 2014. This showed under-representation of women, especially in peer review, as well as under-representation from some countries, most notably China and India. Since then we have been actively working to tackle these issues and ensure our journals are more reflective of the communities they serve. As a result of this five of our journals now offer authors the option of single or double-blind peer review, with uptake for double-blind currently sitting between 10-20% depending on sub-discipline. We are now actively looking to flip several of our journals to exclusively double-blind in 2021. Additionally, three of our journals now offer transparent peer review, whereby the peer review reports are published alongside the article; see here as an example of transparent peer review.
Since publication of our 2018 report, we have increased the proportion of female reviewers invited from 15% to 17%. Invitations to Chinese reviewers have increased from 7% to 14%, and invitations to Indian reviewers have increased from 2% to 5%. This does not mean we are satisfied, we recognise that we have considerably further to go in many respects.
Publishing communications reflect and remind people about diversity and inclusion. Authors are now asked to consider diversity when suggesting potential peer reviewers for their work, and reviewers are asked to consider diversity when suggesting alternative reviewers if they are unable to accept our invitations. In December 2019 we started asking contributors to tell us how they self-identify their gender, to improve the accuracy of our data, which is monitored annually at our editorial board meetings. Targets are set in every journal to increase the proportion of female board members and from China and India, to better reflect our physics community. Every journal now has targets to increase the proportion of female reviewers, and reviewers from China and India.
We have updated our authors' guidelines and now encourage authors to use gender-neutral language in their submissions. Our reviewer guidelines now include information on how to combat implicit bias, and since 2018 publishing staff attend compulsory unconscious-bias training. A new code of conduct has been introduced for board members, which sets out our expectations relating to inclusivity and respect for all, which aligns with our ethical policy that now includes a section on respect for others. Most recently we have signed a joint statement with other publishers initiated by the RSC, which commits us all to setting a new standard for diversity and inclusion within publishing.
We recognise that this is a start and that we have further to go. We have invested in resourcing our diversity and inclusion commitment by appointing a Research Integrity and Inclusion Manager, whose role is to oversee the diversity and inclusion strategy for IOP Publishing. Our action plan covers areas such as launching a diversity and inclusion webinar for reviewers, an ethnicity audit of our journal editorial boards, working with a consultant to better understand the ethnicity profile of our authorship bases, and auditing our journal prizes for diversity and inclusion. There is still more for us to do, but we will continue to review and reflect our processes to ensure that physics publishing is reflective of the wider society and is working to remove and address barriers that anyone may face.