IAPETUS2 Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Policy
IAPETUS2 is committed to developing a diverse, representative community of researchers in Environmental Science. We welcome applications from everyone, and we particularly welcome applicants from traditionally under-represented communities, including Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) candidates, people with disabilities, neurodiverse, female and LGBTQ+ candidates and those from different socioeconomic backgrounds. Any of our studentships can be part-time if that mode of study is more appropriate for your circumstances. We are guided by the UKRI policies on Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, which can be found a copy of them at this link.
Our Policy for EDI Best Practice
In common with other DTPs and CDTs in NERC[i], we are committed to addressing historical imbalances in recruitment in the environmental sciences, and have developed a series of policies to do so. We welcome feedback on these policies and will share them with the wider NERC community. We want our PhD students to be happy, diverse, and collegial people who contribute widely as members of the community of environmental scientists in the future.
Our guidelines follow each of the five stages of our recruitment process:
Stage 1 – Project Development & Approval
When developing a project we ask our academics to:
- strive to have a diverse PhD project supervisory team, for example including academics with a mix of gender, ethnicity and career stage, in the same way that breadth of subject expertise is considered.
- use inclusive language in the PhD project description. The links below provide advice on this topic and can be used to check the language in project descriptions:
- consider project collaborators to ensure visibility of career opportunities beyond academia, which are a key consideration for some groups of applicants. Remember that our directed placement scheme can be used to support collaborations in this way if CASE support isn’t feasible.
- ensure your training in unconscious bias is up to date in advance of interacting with and selecting applicants.
Stage 2 – Applications from Prospective Students
We will advertise PhD projects beyond common sites such as findaphd.com, with adverts also posted specifically to BAME groups. The list below is a good set of suggested options, which we hope will grow over time:
- Many are listed here.
- Stuart Hall Foundation
- Black British in STEM
- Minorities in STEM
- Pride in STEM
- STEMM Disability Advisory Committee
- Diversity in UK Polar Science Initiative
- inorities in Polar Research
- Equate Scotland
- Women in STEM
We will also advertize PhD project opportunities specifically through ethnically diverse universities. The list below is a good set of suggested options, which we hope will grow over time:
o Aston, Queen Mary, Kings, UCL, Leicester, Royal Holloway
We will create fact sheets, run short webinars and set up discussion groups to freely and openly communicate advice about what a PhD is, and how to write a good application, and tips and tricks for interviews, for applicants that may not have access to this information, or are the first generation of their family to consider a PhD. This includes:
o A video of early career scientists discussing why they love being a scientist
o A social media campaign showcasing PhD students, to show that anyone can #BeAScientist and #DoaPhD
o A panel discussion on how a PhD can help in your career
o A webinar to give support in applying for a PhD
We make a clear statement of eligibility on the website and application form, and explicitly encourage applications from underrepresented groups.
The name and contact details of the DTP Administrator are provided on the application form so that questions can be answered and assistance provided in completing it. We clearly state that the Administrator is not involved in the decision-making process in recruitment. We make similar statements about the Postgraduate Administrators for each partner, and point to their contact details on our website. We make it clear that Academic Contacts from each partner are potentially part of the decision-making process.
Stage 3 – Assessing & Nominating Candidates to IAPETUS2
We require that the recruitment committee are up to date with their unconscious bias training in advance of the recruitment process as offered by their respective institutions.
We require our sift panels to be diverse, for example including academics with a mix of gender, ethnicity and career stage.
We anonymize all application documents before being read by recruitment committee, in order to reduce unconscious bias. This includes redacting the name, and gender indicative wording in all application documents.
- This is a time-consuming, but essential, manual job which we very much hope will be automated by the university in the future, however, we found that allocating a week of time and using the Xodo software or Adobe’s redact tool was the best solution currently available.
- Please do not include a photo in your CV.
We ask that academics are asked to write gender-neutral references, in order to reduce the time required for the anonymizing task
- We ask that the applicant is referred to as they/them and without name
- We also include a link to ‘Academic Gender Bias in Reference Writing’ in the reference page https://www.utc.edu/national-scholarships/faculty-resources/avoiding-bias-in-reference-letters.php
- We ask all referees to answer the same set of questions
The recruitment committee and supervisors grade all applications quantitatively on pre-defined criteria
- The theory is that quantitative ranking helps remove any unconscious bias, but we did also leave room for written comments
- Industry experience is treated equal as academic experience
- Masters degrees and internships are de-emphasised as they may reflect unequal access to opportunities
- We carefully considered the criteria the candidates are graded on; these are approved by EDI experts at our partner institutions.
We will guarantee interviews for appointable applicants from underrepresented groups
Stage 4 – Interviews and Selecting Nominations for Funding
We require that the main IAPETUS2 recruitment committee are up top date with their unconscious bias training in advance of the recruitment process as offered by their respective institutions.
We require the main IAPETUS2 recruitment committee to be diverse, for example including academics with a mix of gender, ethnicity and career stage. Interviews are carried out be a subset of the committee, and we will ensure diversity as far as possible within these interview panels.
We note the date of interviews at the start of the application process, and note when candidates will be told of the call to an interview (normally one week before the interview date). Our aim is to provide sufficient notice to allow for preparation, considering that the applicant may have pre-existing and immoveable caring or financial commitments.
For any students who declare disabilities, our administrator makes contact in advance to ensure any reasonable necessary adjustments can be made in good time.
We make clear to all interviewees that their decision about whether to accept an in-person or virtual interview slot will have no bearing on the outcome of the interview.
We quantitatively grade the interviewee responses on pre-defined criteria.
- We use a calibration grid for each interview questions, which defines the criteria for a poor, good, excellent and exceptional answer, and therefore their associated grade.
- We have found that this provides a robust framework around which the interview panel can agree on final marks, and has the additional benefit of calibrating grades between rooms when interviews are conducted in parallel.
We record a quantitative, overall interview score for each applicant, and, combined with the application score, use the combined score to rank and then select the applicants to whom offers are made.
Stage 5 – Offering Studentships to Selected Candidates
We note clearly when offers will be made and provide guidance through the administrative process both centrally and at each partner institution.
We encourage successful applicants to talk to supervisors and existing students in the institution to ensure that they are happy about their choice and to address practical issues, especially if the studentship involves travel to a new institution.
[i] We particularly thank colleagues at the SENSE CDT and CENTA DTP for sharing elements of best practice with us.