Part 3/5: Science communication to boost diversity in STEM

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Ike Mohar, the Institute of Zoology’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) administrator, continues this five-part blog series (found here) describing his experience of ZSL’s four-day symposium held in July 2021. This post outlines the lessons learned from 'Session 2: Science Communication to showcase diversity in the Science Community'.

Session 2 built upon points raised in the previous session and panel discussions. We heard from Professor Seirian Sumner, co-founder of Soapbox Science, with a talk titled “Soapbox Science: Giving a voice to Women in Science”. In this talk, Professor Sumner walked us through the history, aims, and impact of Soapbox Science, as well as the future direction of the programme. As someone who joined ZSL’s Institute of Zoology (IoZ) at the very start of the pandemic, I haven’t had the opportunity to engage with Soapbox Science in person, so this was a great way to learn more about it, and I loved hearing about the detailed history that I was previously unaware of. It was the first of three instances where I really was given the opportunity to learn a bit more about the science initiatives at IoZ and ZSL from a different light.

Screenshot from Professor Seirian Sumner's talk at Science Communication to boost diversity in STEM symposium

The second instance immediately followed, when ZSL’s Kerry Bailey gave her talk titled “Becoming London’s Zoo”. I learned more information about some of the challenges London Zoo has faced when trying to increase access to local communities, but I also discovered how ZSL overcomes these challenges by working with local communities to create more opportunities for learning and accessibility within London Zoo. These programmes are incredibly important, as opportunities like going to a zoo can be highly influential in how local communities and future generations engage with and begin to understand science, and in this instance, can create a respect and appreciation for the natural sciences such as ecology, conversation, zoology, and veterinary sciences. 

Screenshot from Kerry Bailey's talk at Science Communication to boost diversity in STEM symposium
The final speaker of the day was Dr Alfredo Carpineti, co-founder of Pride in STEM. Dr Carpineti’s talk, titled “Being LGBTQ+ in STEM”, focussed on how Pride in STEM was created and highlighted it’s progress and aims. These aims largely centre around acknowledging that LGBTQ+ people are an integral part of STEM, and representation and support of LGBTQ+ people is important in our science to be more inclusive. Pride in STEM provides a platform for LGBTQ+ people working and pursuing careers in STEM to share their science and challenge the old stereotypes of who scientists are. Pride in STEM hopes - a hope that I share - that by making science more inclusive, it makes science more accessible to LGBTQ+ people, with the added benefit of inspiring younger generations of LGBTQ+ to move into the STEM sciences by highlighting LGBTQ+ scientists. 

You can watch Session 2 below, or on our YouTube channel alongside other sessions and online Science and Conservation Events here.

You can find out more information about the symposium here. In next week's blog, I'll be highlighting some of the take home messages from 'Session 3: Opening up sciences to new audiences'.

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