The UK BBSTEM initiative hopes that helping Black researchers to connect and support one another professionally will boost their representation in academia and industry.
Black people are seriously under-represented in UK academia. Of more than 21,000 professors across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland in 2018–19, just 0.7% identify as Black. There almost 10 times as many Asian professors as Black ones, and white people hold 83% of the positions, according to an analysis by the Higher Education Statistics Agency in Cheltenham.
In interviews with the UK University and College Union in 2019, 20 Black female faculty members described a persistent culture of bullying, stereotyping and microaggressions that undermined their sense of belonging in the academic sector. The lack of welcome has been underscored by low grant-success rates for people of colour.