BIG's Inclusive Recovery Roundtable
During the July 2020 BIG Event, which was held online, we ran a roundtable session to discuss Inclusive Recovery of the science communication sector. This session was open to members and non-members, and the Executive Committee also invited specific individuals and organisations.
The problems we were trying to address included (from the event
How do we ensure our sector’s recovery from COVID-19 is inclusive? How can we ensure our work engages with the audiences most affected by the pandemic? How do we make sure that staff and volunteers who have been hit the hardest aren’t left behind? How can we take all the progress towards remote access events and build on it going forward?
The session began with a short talk from Dr Emily Dawson, Lecturer in Science Communication in the UCL Department of Science and Technology Studies. Her work focuses on how people learn about and engage with science, with an emphasis on equity and social justice. Emily’s talk was titled ‘Normal ≠ OK: A provocation’ and covered what inclusive recovery could look like, how being able to work or volunteer in science communication is marked by privilege and how this is exacerbated in leadership roles, the impact of COVID, how inclusion can be in service of different competing purposes and more.
After Emily’s talk participants discussed the topic in break out rooms. They were asked to each come up with two pledges:
● A pledge to contribute to an inclusive recovery for their colleagues
● A pledge to contribute to an inclusive recovery for their audiences or public partners
As the national STEM Communicator’s Network, BIG has a role to play in taking this work forward. We invited participants to suggest ways BIG could support its members (and the broader sector) to contribute to the inclusive recovery of our community. We also asked participants to share useful resources.
My pledge to contribute to an inclusive recovery for my colleagues...
There were many broad pledges to embed equity and inclusivity in processes and planning, and to speak out for colleagues and call out bad behaviour.
Other pledges included (some paraphrased and consolidated):
● Be vocal about keeping remote meetings / events as an option going forward (With caveat that remote events / events are more accessible for some and less for others)
● Challenge structures that perpetuate unpaid work, underpaid work, insecure jobs
● Challenge funders to provide longer term support
● Pay PhD students for their time in PE events, some students, particularly those from overseas, may be using their stipend and part-time work to fund family members back home now or in future (Note that there may be visa restrictions with this)
● Implement mandatory training for staff to improve EDI awareness, both from perspective of identifying it in others and accepting being corrected ourselves
● Promoting sci-comm socials to wider audiences to build bigger and more diverse networks
● Include an EDI statement in your organisations vision/corporate strategy
My pledge to contribute to an inclusive recovery for my audiences and public partners…
There were fewer overarching themes for these pledges. Pledges included (some paraphrased and consolidated):
● Take this period of change as an opportunity to adapt a long-standing programme to be much more inclusive and have the opportunity to reach more people
● Prioritise platforming individuals from underrepresented groups, and drawing from a more diverse set of role models. Others added:
○ Avoid 'who do we know that could do this well' and look outside your existing networks
○ And making sure it's not the same person from the underrepresented group every time!
● Make sure that our media releases show the full diverse teams involved in discoveries not just the (often white male) principle investigator
● Take this as an opportunity to change how and where content is delivered to audiences.
● Work on bringing the content to the audience rather than relying on the audience seeking out my content
● Actively seeking out and asking underrepresented groups what reduces their engagement and what changes could help e.g. engage in different settings, use different formats to reach them out etc
● Pushing for decolonising STEM curriculums in my institutions
The original pledges can be seen here InclusiveRecoveryPadlet.pdf
Actions BIG could take to support members and others
Some of these have been directly taken from the actions suggested during the session on the Padlet (link above). Others have come from conversations during the session.
BIG only works because of the enthusiasm and commitment of its members. The volunteer Executive Committee steer the direction of BIG, on behalf of its members but can't make everything happen. The actions suggested below can only happen if we all contribute. If you'd like to get involved please complete the form at the bottom of this section.
Suggested actions the BIG executive committee can take:
● Contact Museum Detox about their White Privilege Clinic - BIG will look into this for the next BIG event or a Skills Day
● Mentoring scheme - BIG are developing a mentoring scheme
● Help to promote/signal boost a wide range/list of speakers, presenters and trainers to help those looking for someone to speak at an event make better decisions and not just rely on existing networks - BIG are looking into whether the website can be used for this as we already have a ‘find a contractor’ section of the website’
● Look into the impact of volunteering on the sector - we have started conversations with other individuals and organisations about how to take this further. If you would like to get involved, please email Helen Featherstone (email@example.com)
Related actions the BIG executive committee are involved with
● Over the last year we have been part of an advisory group for the British Science Association who have been developing a programme to diversify the people coming into our sector. A proposal has been developed and is currently under consideration by the National Forum for Public Engagement with STEM.
● The committee are proactively joining in national conversations about science communication and public engagement and we use these opportunities to advocate for issues such as the need for funding that can be used to reach underrepresented audiences.
Zine version of Emily Dawson’s book, illustrated by Sophie Wang
A visual framework to help make changes by Diversily
Collection of articles exploring equity and inclusion in Ecsite’s Spokes Magazine
List of women of colour commentators in Scotland
Tool to guide strategic discussion for science centre practitioners
Linked-In based network run by the Lightyear Foundation
Recording of an Ecsite webinar
Article by Emily Dawson and Barbara Streicher in Ecsite’s Spokes Magazine
Report by the Disabled Children’s Partnership
Culture&’s recommended actions for the heritage sector
Article written by Elizabeth Rasekoala and Lindy Orthia on the LSE blog
A Scotland based collective of educational stakeholders
Report by the Equality and Human Rights Commission
Lots of anti-racism resources
Network for people of colour working in museums, galleries, libraries, archives and the heritage sector
If you would like to add more resources to this list please send them to us on firstname.lastname@example.org
● While the focus of the event was on inclusive recovery from the pandemic, we were reminded that the climate emergency continues and that this shouldn't be overlooked.