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The MPLS Division values the diversity of all of its staff and students. We strive to create an inclusive culture where different perspectives and experiences are encouraged, and each person is respected and treated fairly, so that individuals of all backgrounds can fully contribute their talents to our scientific community. The MPLS Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Fund has been established to support departments (and staff and students in those departments) and enable local activity that aims to advance equality, diversity and inclusion (ED&I).

Over each academic year, £8,000 is dispersed to departments in MPLS for ED&I activities that:

  • Create new projects and initiatives;
  • Enhance and support existing activity that has evidenced impact;
  • Foster creative ideas to address existing disparities/inequalities pertaining to protected characteristics as described in the Equality Act 2010; or
  • Pilot activity in a department for possible extension across the Division.

For 2022-23, there will be two calls for applications in November 2022 and March 2023, and we anticipate funding about 3-5 projects. All staff (academics, researchers and professional services staff) and students within MPLS are eligible to apply, and all applications require approval by the Department Administrator and Head of Department.

The selection panel of divisional officers chaired by the MPLS Associate Head for People, will consider the following criteria:

  • The activity will benefit one or more MPLS departments [or individuals within the department(s)]. Proposals involving departments/partners external to MPLS will be considered, as long as there is at least one participating MPLS department.
  • The proposal involves either funding an innovative/new activity or sustaining existing activity that has demonstrated impact or positive results/benefits.
  • The proposal is aligned with departmental, divisional, or University ED&I related action plans and strategic priorities (e.g. Athena Swan action plans, Race Equality Charter).

 Examples of successful applications can be seen at the bottom of the page. Funding is unlikely to be awarded for:

  • A proposal which benefits a single individual and which does not demonstrate broader impact beyond that individual; and
  • Activities which form part of the regular day-to-day operations of a department where we would normally expect funding to already exist to support that activity.

ABOUT THE APPLICATION PROCESS

The following initiatives and projects were successful in their applications to the MPLS ED&I Fund.

Mfano-Africa and Mathematical Institute – Mentorship Programme

This virtual mentorship programme will run for a second time during the summer of 2022, and is further expanded to include the Department of Statistics and the Department of Earth Sciences, as well as the Mathematical Institute (MI). This project encourages quality applications from African applicants in Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science and to help applicants build a career in Maths. This will be the final time of funding as the project team finalise and streamline project / timeline design, materials, evaluation systems etc., where it will then be embedded into ongoing business as usual postgraduate outreach activity within our departments, and can more easily be shared as a package for other departments wishing to benefit.

Department of Materials – Anti-Racist Bookshelf

Matched funding from the MPLS ED&I Fund and the Department of Materials is being provided to develop an anti-racism bookshelf in the Hume-Rothery Reception. With more people back onsite, the Bookshelf will encourage staff and students to browse and borrow books from as many non-European cultures as possible, and to include stories which people will enjoy reading which at the same time will inform them about cultures and heritage.

Department of Biology – Making Fieldwork Safer

Field research has many challenges, and often poses additional risks for women, LGBTQIA+ people and people of colour. However, these risks are rarely openly discussed and most field researchers receive insufficient training. This project will engage the Fieldwork Initiative to provide specialised ‘FIEST’ training to student and staff researchers from WildCRU, ICCS and other interested groups from across MPLS, improving fieldwork safety and providing long-term support.

The following initiatives and projects were successful in their applications to the MPLS ED&I Fund.

Hilary Term 2021

Mfano-Africa and Mathematical Institute – Mentorship Programme

A pilot 2-month mentor programme during Long Vac 2021 to encourage quality applications from African applicants in Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science and to help applicants build a career in Maths. 10 applicants will undertake an online programme of work over 8 weeks with Oxford-based mentors. Outcomes and impact include increase of quality DPhil applications from African students, collaboration across MPLS departments. We are hoping this pilot will develop into a bigger project in in 2021/22.

Chemistry and Pharmacology – addressing bias in graduate applications

A joint submission from Chemistry and Pharmacology to address unconscious bias in graduate applications, developing redaction software (with commercial potential), to investigate and evaluate admissions processes across the University and beyond. The overall objective is to promote these processes and roll out across the University and beyond.

Michaelmas Term 2020

BIPOC STEM Network 

The BIPOC STEM Network is an inclusive group of research staff, academic staff, administrative and postgraduates within the University’s STEM departments, who identify as Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour (BIPOC) or BAME. The primary aim of the Network is to promote and support the work of People of Colour within the University and beyond, in order to create a more diverse and inclusive environment within academia. The Network will highlight contributions of People of Colour in STEM, explore how to navigate STEM as a Person of Colour, promote effective allyship and work with the University to implement policy aimed at improving diversity and inclusivity that draws on the experiences and insights of People of Colour.

Zoology and Plants Sciences – Colonial Fieldwork Project

A project to develop an online training course for staff and students to address colonial attitudes towards fieldwork. The project will specifically focus on: (a) building relationships between visiting researchers and host researchers and their institutions; (b) collaboration and data sharing; (c) local knowledge and cultural sensitivity.

Zoology and WildCRU – EDI Reverse Tutorials

A pilot project to explore current graduate students delivering reverse tutorials to current tutorial staff on EDI topics, with a focus on increasing their understanding of the barriers to success faced by minorities, and encouraging them to enhance their teaching and research activities to be more actively inclusive.