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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.

ERA is an independent initiative which was piloted at St George’s, University of London. The ERA programme is now being rolled out across universities worldwide.

What we offer

Through ERA, we offer:

  • work shadowing research placements with a travel stipend. Students who are undecided about a career in academia 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.
  • funded research studentships for final year students who want to pursue a career in academia, to gain hands-on laboratory experience. Students design and conduct a research project and produce either a conference submission or journal article to evidence this work.  
  • mentoring, networking and bespoke careers sessions in collaboration with the University of London careers advisors
  • 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 Covid-19 pandemic).

Apply for a work shadowing placement or studentship

ERA 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 currently have work shadowing and studentship opportunities available via ERA at St George's, University of London. Find out more about each of these including how to apply, by clicking the headings below.

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Work shadowing placements

There are 2 placements on offer to take place between June and September 2022.

About the placements

ERA work shadowing placements provide you with the opportunity to gain a valuable insight into academic research careers. The placements are almost like a “try before you buy” experience. You will shadow a research group to understand the day-to-day life of members instrumental to the scientific process including but not limited to, postgraduate students, postdoctoral fellows, laboratory technicians, lab principal investigators (pIs) and professors. You may also be involved in the group’s research practices, allowing you the opportunity to develop a research network. You will experience academic activities from grant writing to lab experiments and you will work personally with a careers advisor to review your CV. 

Eligibility

The initiative is open to undergraduate students on any degree course in any year except their final year, who are from ethnic minority backgrounds. According to the Gov-uk website, the term ethnic minority refers to “all ethnic groups except the White British group”.

Award

You will receive a stipend at the same level as Wellcome Trust Studentships (£250 per week). The host laboratory will also be provided with funding to cover the cost of consumables and/or research output.  

How to apply

See full placement details and complete the questions at the final page of this document (Word).

Send the completed document, along with your CV to Dr Mohani-Preet Kaur Dhillon (founder of ERA) at mdhillon@sgul.ac.uk.

The deadline for applications is 4pm on Monday 30 May 2022

Studentships

There are 2 studentships on offer take place for 6 to 8 weeks from June to September 2022.

About the studentships

ERA studentships provide you with the opportunity to get hands on research experience. You will be able to design a project with a supervisor of your choosing and write a research proposal. The work you conduct during this studentship will contribute towards research output e.g. A research paper, conference submission and/or internal presentation. This is fantastic opportunity for you to grow your research interest and cultivate your research network.

Vacation Studentships provide the opportunity to gain valuable research experience in a laboratory at SGUL, with the intention of encouraging students to consider a career in research.

Eligibility

This initiative is open to undergraduate students from ethnic minority backgrounds across all courses who are in their final year of study. According to the Gov.uk websitethe term ethnic minority refers to “all ethnic groups except the White British group”. 

Award

You will receive a stipend at the same level as Wellcome Trust Studentships (£250 per week in 2018). The host laboratory will also be provided with funding to cover the cost of consumables and/or research output.

How to apply

You should contact potential supervisors (details in document linked below) and discuss a suitable research project that will last for 6 to 8 weeks during June to September 2022. 

There is also a short application form to complete and return which is on page 4 of this information pack (which contains full details of the studentships and placements on offer) (Word).

Send the completed document to Dr Mohani-Preet Kaur Dhillon (founder of ERA) at mdhillon@sgul.ac.uk.

The deadline for applications is 4pm on Monday 30 May 2022

Applicant packs

Hear from ERA participants

Lien

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

Maya

"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 journeys 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 ethnic 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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