Diversity and inclusion

The Society is committed to the principles of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion and to creating a community and culture in which they are embedded across all activities. The Society has recently launched its Diversity and Inclusion Strategy and, to ensure that this is reflected across the work of the organisation, has a Trustee Inclusion and Diversity Champion on the Board and a Diversity and Inclusion Champion on each of its Advisory Committees. These Champions will promote awareness and ensure that all Society meetings are conducted in a manner that is supportive of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion to ensure that the entire talent pool is considered in all discussions regarding Society activities.

As The Society develops its Equality and Diversity Strategy further and identifies mechanisms and initiatives through which it can support these principles, the Champions may be called upon as a group to contribute and advise as required.

In 2015 The Physiological Society celebrated the centenary of our first female Member being elected. We marked this by strengthening our commitment to a fully inclusive membership. In September 2018 we welcomed our first female President, Professor Bridget Lumb, who is committed to overseeing the continued improvement in diversity and inclusion within The Society.

Female members have a long history of very active roles in The Society and I am proud to be elected as the first female President at such an exciting time in our evolution. Members are at the heart of the new strategy and diversity in our membership is essential to the successful delivery.

Bridget Lumb, President, The Physiological Society

True diversity requires fair representation of all communities. Our aim is to remove any barriers that restrict physiologists from joining and participating in Society activities. Since 2006 we have asked Members, and others interacting with The Society, to complete an equal opportunities form that provides valuable information to help us identify under representation and, as a result, consider any barriers that may be contributing to this. Our past President, Professor David Eisner, wrote a piece in our Members’ magazine, Physiology News (Issue 110, page 6) which highlights the importance of sharing your information.

Our efforts

The Physiological Society gives a platform to the next generation of female senior scientists. In early 2018 we introduced a minimum expectation of 33% female representation in all our scientific meetings. We are working towards a target of 50%. We know that women are under-represented in the most senior scientific roles. In order to address this, we are acting to rebalance the equilibrium of speakers at our events by casting a wider net and looking outside immediate scientific circles. In 2014-2018 all our scientific meetings met the minimum expectation for female representation.

We are proud of progress to date in our aim to make scientific meetings accessible, appropriately balanced and open to all. We recognise that there is still plenty to achieve, therefore we are continually open to ideas from our Members regarding best practice, and we look forward to hearing from you.

Sue Deuchars, Chair of Conferences Committee and Diversity Champion, The Physiological Society

It’s important to us to support the progression of early career physiologists and remove obstacles that might otherwise limit their progression to the most senior scientific roles. In 2017 our Affiliate Working Group was formed and is represented on each of The Society’s advisory committees. This ensures that the voice of the next generation is part of every discussion. This working group was behind the popular Future Physiology conference that took place in December 2017. We plan to make this an annual event.

The Society is committed to investing in the next generation of physiologists and a key aspect of this strategy is ensuring our early career researchers are provided with the opportunities needed to help them progress. This includes providing dedicated presentation opportunities at our meetings and by having full representation on our Committees.

Mat Piasecki, former Chair of the Affiliate Working Group, The Physiological Society

Keeping diversity and inclusion on the agenda

The Society’s drive to support diversity and inclusion extends to all areas of activity. To achieve this we established a network of individuals that take the lead for their professional areas of activity. This staff group meets each quarter to discuss relevant progress. It is also a regular topic of discussion by The Society’s Board of Trustees. Our Diversity Champions are Sue Deuchars and Rachel Tribe.

This is a key initiative to ensure our Society continues to thrive and be relevant to the future generation of physiologists, biomedical scientists and clinical researchers. As a community, it is essential that all feel welcome and are equally supported in their interactions with The Society. Our first step will be to address the gender balance across all our activities. We hope to use this experience to then enhance inclusion for other groups.

Rachel Tribe, Diversity Champion, The Physiological Society

Support mechanisms at The Society

Grant for Carers

In order to ensure our activities are inclusive we have established a Carer’s Fund to support members with caring responsibilities, as well as those that need carers. The grants are intended to offset the cost of the attendee’s care arrangements for any meeting or workshop that we organise.

Introductory Mentoring Service

We believe facilitating positive relationships is the best way to support your career progression. Mentors help The Society to support the development of physiologists and the discipline of physiology. Mentees benefit from the shared experiences of another physiologist without judgement or expectation.

Resources to Support Mental Health

We have funded access to some online resources to help support the mental wellbeing of our Members and the wider scientific. To gain access to a particular resource please email Chrissy Stokes, Head of Professional Development and Engagement.

Other useful links

Historical celebrations of women in physiology:

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