Equality, diversity and inclusion at the Microbiology Society

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12 / 10 / 2021

One of our core values is that we are welcoming to anyone interested in microbes, their effects and their uses. Diversity is important – it brings different perspectives and creativity to what we do. Over the years we have paid attention to our membership’s gender diversity and, thanks to the efforts of all decision-making groups, the representation of women has improved and now reflects the wider membership. It took a lot of hard work from organisers and decision makers to do this, paying consistent attention to many things including invited speakers and Prize nomination processes to ensure they were as fair as they could be.

Since 2018, we have asked members to anonymously tell us about themselves. This helps us to paint a picture each year of who is a member of the Society, and the results help us to determine if the Society’s activities properly reflect the community it represents. From that point, we expanded our data collection to ethnicity, disability and career stage, and in 2021 we started to ask members if they identified as LGBTQIA+, as we know that there is far more to diversity than gender. In addition to this annual survey, we welcome suggestions from members on more specific surveys; in late 2020, Champion Michael Pascoe led a survey asking LGBTQ+ members what more the Society could do to support them.

These insights have allowed us to put measures in place across all our activities to make them as welcoming as possible. In addition to specific welcoming efforts at all our events including nursing rooms, childcare, prayer rooms, accessibility improvements and support grants for members with any caring responsibilities, we have introduced the Council and Committees Shadowing Scheme as we know our decision-making bodies do not reflect the wide diversity of our membership. We introduced a Code of Conduct to protect members and ensure everyone is aware of the Society’s values and our expectations of participants in Society activities. We partner with other organisations to hold ourselves accountable and ensure we are working together as part of the wider scientific and publishing communities.

Representation (%) of women at the Society across membership, Council, Divisions, Committees, Editorial boards and Annual Conference (AC) Speakers. Marker lines for 33% and 50% are provided for comparison.

While we are proud of how far we’ve come since 2013, we know that there is so much more to do and progress takes time and effort. We want to make sure we are accountable to you, our members, on how we can be inclusive to all with an interest in microbes. So, we have established a new Members Panel, to bring the voice of our members even closer. We invite members from under-represented groups and those who are allies who want to make a real difference to the Society’s efforts to be more inclusive to join the Members Panel.

We are committed to the continuous process of improving inclusion and we hope that by getting more members involved, we can ensure our thriving membership feels welcome in everything we do.

Find out more about equality, diversity and inclusion at the Microbiology Society, including data for 2020 and information on how to join our new Members Panel on our website.

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