Putting social mobility first

To mark this year’s Social Mobility Day, we reflect on why and how social mobility is the utmost priority for in2scienceUK.

At In2scienceUK, a driving force for our work is bearing witness to the transformative power of social mobility. By giving students and graduates the opportunity to explore STEM research and industries, we are proud to have seen so many of our programme participants go on to thrive in their studies and careers. 

As well as empowering talented individuals from lower socioeconomic backgrounds, levelling the playing field in STEM also delivers national and global benefits. For example, unlocking more opportunities for young people across the country helps to address the ongoing skills shortage across these industries in the UK. With more people from a diverse range of backgrounds being able to study, research and work in STEM, we will be better equipped to drive innovation and solve global challenges. 

However, there is still progress to be made. Only 15% of academics are from working class backgrounds, and according to the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA), Black academic staff only make up 1% of all professors across the UK. It’s especially important for organisations like ours to understand and raise awareness of how social mobility and equality of opportunity within STEM and other areas of academia are inextricably linked.

So, how can we ensure social mobility remains at the heart of what we do?

As part of our 5-year strategy, we hope to achieve our goals of promoting social mobility and diversity by:

1. Ensuring the participants and alumni of our programmes are at the centre of our work

To offer effective support, it is essential that our programmes are designed to always serve the students and graduates we strive to help. Each of our processes, from the partners we collaborate with to the communications we put out and the events we hold should be done with our participants in mind.

2. Following a data-led approach

A main priority is to understand our impact and what does (and doesn’t) work so that we can adapt, especially when new challenges arise. An example of this is when we launched In2STEM Online to widen access during the pandemic and beyond. Encouraging continuous learning and improvement not just for our programmes but for ourselves is key.

3. Offering resources that support every part of the journey

Our programmes are developed to enable young people to fully explore their educational options, gain experience for postgraduate study and find helpful career resources. By taking a holistic approach, we can offer a pipeline of support from school all the way to employment. Through our In2careers platform which launched last year, we are able to offer ongoing support for our participants’ professional development.

4. Championing inclusive practices

Our work would be inauthentic if we perpetuated the same barriers that we are trying to break down when offering our support, which is why we aim to practise what we preach and implement inclusive policies. It’s also important to acknowledge that not all the student groups we help will face the same challenges and we should try to gain as much understanding as possible of the barriers different groups need to overcome.

By following each of these principles, we hope that we can advance our work towards a future in which young people can progress and succeed in vibrant STEM education and careers, regardless of their background.

To find out more about our approach to promoting social mobility, why not come along to our Summer Party in a couple of weeks? It’s a free in-person event where you’ll get the opportunity to meet our generous partners, supporters and volunteers who make our programmes possible, as well as hear about our inspiring alumni’s experiences.

Find out more and register for the event here.