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Under representation in academia

Data on representation of academic staff shows a low ratio of staff from ethnic minorities to students from the same backgrounds.

This suggests that students from ethnic minorities are not progressing into academic research careers.

Data also show that as the seniority of the academic role increases, the representation of staff from ethnic minorities decreases. 

How we're trying to help


Equal Representation in Academia (ERA) is an initiative which aims to raise awareness of academic research careers for students from ethnic minorities and thereby facilitate the academic career path for those wanting to follow this route. ERA is open to undergraduate students from ethnic minorities, on any degree programme.

This is an independent initiative but will be pioneered in St George's, University of London with 4 pilot placements to begin shortly. Following this, ERA hopes to branch out to other universities. 

What we offer

Through ERA, we offer:

  • a work shadowing research placement with travel stipend. Students can shadow a research group to understand the day-to-day life of members instrumental to the scientific process such as postgraduate students, postdoctoral fellows, laboratory technicians, lab principal investigators (PIs), professors etc.

  • an online platform with podcast style interviews and question and answer sessions with academics discussing topics including the graduate school, how to go about considering a PhD and the rewards of an academic career

  • mentoring and careers support

  • engagement with the community to showcase some of the work that scientists do and to highlight the vital contribution of academia to life (e.g. the development of life-saving vaccine treatment for the Coronavirus pandemic).

Apply for a work shadowing placement

ERA work shadowing placements provide the opportunity to gain a valuable insight into academic research careers for students from ethnic minorities, to improve their graduate employability and support in the transition from degree to career. 

We are currently planning for another round of work shadowing placements, which will be available for applications via this webpage shortly.

Hear from ERA participants


Lien took part in one of 4 pilot work shadowing placements at St George's as part of the ERA initiative.


"This ERA placement has provided me with the opportunity to gain invaluable insight into research and academia which has had a positive influence and impact on the career path I would like to pursue, on completion of my Occupational Therapy BSc at SGUL. 

"It was extremely inspirational and encouraging having my PI, Dr Andoulla Elia, other clinicians and research students share their knowledge and journies of their career paths which made it clear with support, opportunities, hard work and dedication those of us from ethnic minorities can achieve similar career paths.

"Be confident, be bold and never doubt your abilities in pursuing a career you are passionate about." 

"The members of the research and academia team were an absolute pleasure to work with, they were extremely welcoming and supportive throughout.

"I would highly recommend this placement to my fellow peers from ethinic backgrounds interested in research and academia to take the plunge and apply, it will most definitely enhance your student experience. "

Sabrin Fuad Mohamed

"I am honoured to have been part of such an invaluable opportunity!

"This combination of research and application within medicine has reaffirmed my decision to pursue this career." 

Samia Islam Tajbiha

"If you're thinking about taking the ERA placement, stop thinking about it and just apply!

"My placement taught me so much about being a scientist, being a doctor and the ability to be both at the same time.

"You learn so much about the world of science, things you were confused about and things you never even knew about before. You get a hands-on experience doing practicals all day, in a comforting and supportive environment where you can ask about the different jobs you can pursue, gaining a real human view on being a scientist and also developing relationships with the amazing St George's researchers that you don't usually get to know during university.

"Not only can you enhance your professional network and career development, but you do all of this with the knowledge that the ERA initiative supports such an important ethos in addressing the lack of workplace diversity. Advocacy is a virtue valued by those in need of equity, and by taking part in this placement, you can advocate for the need of academia representation in the world of research and bring to light its importance in our society!"

More information

ERA was founded by Dr. Mohani-Preet Kaur Dhillon, a SGUL PhD alumnus.

Mohani is working closely with the Deputy Head and Head of SGUL Graduate School Dr. Mark Bodman-Smith and Dr. Carwyn Hooper and the Dean for Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion Dr. Vanessa Ho, to improve Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) and Widening Participation (WP) at SGUL. 

If you would like to get involved in ERA or want more information, please get in touch:

Or you can follow us on social media or see us via our YouTube channel:

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