Increasing BAME Representation & Inclusion in Geosciences: a Call to Action

Increasing BAME Representation & Inclusion in Geosciences: a Call to Action

On Monday 29th June, the Department of Earth Sciences at the University of Oxford hosted an online panel discussion on recruitment and inclusion of Black, Asian, and minority ethnic (BAME) individuals in Geoscience.

From Oxford Earth Sciences, the panellists included Head of Department Chris Ballentine, Director of Teaching, Conall MacNiocaill, and postgraduate students Ben Fernando and Gawain Antell. They were accompanied by Oxford Visiting Professor and newly appointed President of the Geological Society of London, Mike Daly, together with the Royal Astronomical Society’s (RAS) Executive Director Philip Diamond and Chair of the RAS Diversity Committee Natasha Stephen. The panel was chaired by Oxford Associate Prof. and Chair of Workplace and Equality Committee, Erin Saupe.

The event marked the launch of a student-led report into Equality, Diversity and Inclusivity (EDI) in the context of BAME staff and students, which was released earlier last month on 11th June. Our postgraduate community convened an ad hoc working group to examine BAME issues across the Department, led by Ben Fernando and Gawain Antell, with contributions from many others. The aim of the report was to increase awareness and discussion of the important issues of EDI within the departmental community, with a hope that the points raised in their report might also prove beneficial to other Oxford departments and the wider academic community. Oxford Earth Sciences welcomed their constructive report and issued a detailed and supportive response.

The online event drew an audience of more than 200 people and sparked an engaging discussion. Ben Fernando, one of the report’s main authors said ‘It was great to see that we got such a broad and international audience.’

The Zoom meeting began with an introduction from Chris Ballentine, before the report and the Department’s response were both presented. This was followed by reflections from the learned societies, before moving to a Live Q&A. The full event was recorded and text captioned, and you can watch this below:

The full time-stamped program of the event was as follows:

In addition to the presentations, the event showcased ongoing live discussions in the meeting Chat room, with the sharing of experiences and of useful resources. The full transcript of the chat room can be read here.

Commenting after the event, Mike Daly said: ‘Ben and Gwen’s initiative with the Oxford Earth Sciences BAME report was an act of leadership. Together with the positive response of the Earth Sciences Department, this interaction has moved the broader Earth Sciences EDI agenda forward in both energy and direction.’

The report authors wish to thank the contributions from the many people involved in the initiative, including Oxford students JD Dianala, Roberta Wilkinson, Rebecca Colquhoun, and Ritwika Sengupta, and staff members including Issy Walker, Erin Saupe, Conall MacNiocaill, Chris Ballentine, Roger Benson and Tarje Nissen-Meyer.

Head of Department Chris Ballentine reflects: ‘Barriers to equity and inclusion are tackled best when we work together as a community. There is always more we can do to broaden participation, and we encourage the support of our undergraduates, postgraduates, postdocs, staff, and faculty in making our Department a welcoming environment to all.’