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Being BME in STEM Conference

Lara Lalemi

Lara Lalemi

18 February 2019

On 6th of February 2019, the School of Chemistry hosted it's first 'Being BME in STEM’ Conference which was organised by Lara Lalemi and the newly formed BME in STEM network. The event was organised to come up with possible solutions for the problem of low recruitment and retention of BME students in STEM degrees.

Invited speakers included Cleo Lake, Lord Mayor of Bristol, who focussed on the history and influence of BME cultures on Science, Dr Erinma Ochu MBE, Lecturer in Science Communication and Future Media at the University of Salford who talked about the difficulties forging her own path to her lectureship and Dr Emmanuel Adukwu, Senior Lecturer and Employability Lead - Coordinator at UWE Africa Network who spoke of his career path and the hardships he had to overcome with emigrating from Nigeria as a student. 

The event was attended by approximately 90 people, who then broke off into discussion groups to explore questions such as how can we improve the recruitment and retention of BME students to STEM subjects, how and why do we protect minority groups such as BAME students/staff from feelings of isolation in STEM, what does an inclusive education system look like and what changes can we make to the delivery of STEM subjects at our universities and workplaces?

The final session involved a panel discussion and question time. The panel included the first two keynote speakers, Dr Ochu and Dr Adukwu, as well as, Dr Mark Richards, Senior Teaching Fellow and Head of Physics Outreach at Imperial College London, Professor Fred Manby, Professor of Theoretical Chemistry at University of Bristol, Professor Christina Hicks, Lecturer in Political Ecology at Lancaster University and Nasra Ayub, Undergraduate Education Officer at Bristol SU.

The event concluded with facilitators from each round table presenting their final solutions and prizes for the best contributor on each table. The event brought about healthy discussions of the issues presented and a very sensible set of solutions to present to the University. There was a sense of solidarity amongst the BME students present and the event provided a safe space for talking about their own experiences. 

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