The death of George Floyd as a white police officer knelt on his neck in Minneapolis, US, and the protests that followed have rightly drawn attention to the issue of institutionalised racism. The same subject is being highlighted by racial disparities in the impact of Covid-19.
The Association of British Science Writers has long sought to challenge injustices brought by bias. The ABSW board has recently agreed its support for Black Lives Matter and the Jena Declaration. We recognise the evidence for racial prejudice within science writing, journalism and science, and we commit to tackling the obstacles that prevent equal opportunities for all within our profession. We are here to support our members and advocate for members who experience prejudice because of their ethnicity.
ABSW is committed to increasing the diversity of science journalism in the United Kingdom. We are therefore establishing scholarships to help train more science writers from under-represented backgrounds.
For key meetings through 2020, ABSW will reserve scholarships for applicants who meet at least one of the diversity criteria below.
- You are from a Black and/or other minority group in the UK or other member country of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
- You have a disability as defined in the UK Equality Act of 2010
- You are a carer
- Your home is in a Low or Middle Income Country (as defined by the OECD's development cooperation database)
- For UK applicants, your home is in a town, city or region included in the government's IMD (Indices of Multiple Deprivation) database
All applicants wishing to be considered for a Diversity Scholarship should email a short letter explaining the reasons they meet the eligibility criteria.
Applications are considered by a sub-committee of the ABSW board, independently of the registration process.
The Diversity Scholarships scheme was launched in time for our July 2020 Opinion Writing Masterclass and we were delighted to welcome three Diversity Scholars to that traning event.
We will also offer scholarships for the UK Conference of Science Journalists,taking place 13-15 October 2020. Among the many topics we are aiming to explore are scientific racism and ensuring diversity among sources for our work. We will provide an update on the conference programme before the end of June very soo; pre-register here to be notified as soon as more information is available.
You can take some immediate steps towards informing yourselves about the issues with board member Angela Saini’s Race and Science reading list:
- Fatal Invention: How Science, Politics, and Big Business Re-create Race in the Twenty-First Century by Dorothy Roberts
- The Social Life of DNA: Race, Reparations, and Reconciliation After the Genome by Alondra Nelson
- Is Science Racist? by Jonathan Marks
- Biased: Uncovering the Hidden Prejudice That Shapes What We See, Think, and Do by Jennifer Eberhardt
- The Funding of Scientific Racism: Wickliffe Draper and the Pioneer Fund by William Tucker
- The Myth of Race: The Troubling Persistence of an Unscientific Idea by Robert Sussman
- Sway: Unravelling Unconscious Bias by Pragya Agarwal
- Reactionary Democracy: How Racism and the Populist Far Right Became Mainstream by Aaron Winter and Aurelien Mondon
- Skin Deep: Journeys in the Divisive Science of Race by Gavin Evans
Another small step that you can take is trying to interview different experts for your work, such as those at Diverse Sources.
We would also gladly promote work done by ABSW members relating to racial prejudice. Email us with your updates on this and we will share it with our membership.
Do you have any other ideas for what the ABSW should do in these areas? Again, email us or post on our social media channels.