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Researchers from minority ethnic communities and the UK Parliament

In October 2020, UK Parliament's Knowledge Exchange Unit held a series of online discussion groups with researchers from minority ethnic communities.  The groups were open to researchers who had registered for our postponed 'BAME Researchers and the UK Parliament' event.  

What did we learn?

During the online discussions, participants shared their lived experiences of inequality in existing parliamentary processes and the barriers they have faced to being heard at the UK Parliament.  They also contributed ideas on how Parliament can strengthen its work to support researchers from minority ethnic communities to engage with Parliament.

Researchers from minority ethnic communities would like to see:

  • Network/s of researchers from minority ethnic communities, particularly recognising the range of backgrounds, cultures and experiences within the 'BAME' label.
  • Transparency in the process and selection of researchers engaging with Parliament, e.g. those being called as witnesses for select committees.
  • Positive messages coming from Parliament to minority ethnic researchers.
  • Teaching, mentoring and coaching about ways and opportunities to work with Parliament.
  • Fellowships and opportunities at Parliament for minority ethnic researchers.
  • Continuing exploration of barriers for minority ethnic researchers in engaging with Parliament.
  • Parliament connecting with academic leadership groups and representative groups for minority ethnic researchers within HEIs and research organisations.
  • Parliament reaching out to existing minority ethnic researchers' networks.
  • Parliament advocating for a focus on issues around racial equality throughout the education system.
  • Parliament advocating with funders about equality of access to funding, and funding linked to incentives around racial equality in Higher Education.

We can't take forward every suggestion we received, but here is more information and examples on how we're responding to the suggestions we heard.

Weren't you having an event?

An event called 'BAME Researchers and the UK Parliament' was planned for Thursday 12th March 2020.  Attendees were planning to share their lived experiences of engaging with Parliament, contribute ideas to strengthen Parliament's work with researchers from minority ethnic communities, celebrate the impact of researchers from minority ethnic communities and explore how to engage with Parliament as a researcher.  The event included a networking session, sponsored by Emerald Publishing

This event has been indefinitely postponed due to the COVID-19 outbreak.  The online discussion groups held in Autumn 2020 took a substantive part of the event online, to ensure that the event postponement does not delay or prevent attendees in sharing their experiences and ideas.

We still aim to hold a future event with researchers from minority ethnic communities, to celebrate the impact of researchers at Parliament, share findings and actions from these online discussion groups, and build networks and contacts for researchers from minority ethnic communities.

Why are we undertaking these activities?

We know that researchers from minority ethnic communities are under-represented in engagement with the UK Parliament, based on both statistical and anecdotal evidence.  We want that to change. 

This event is part of ongoing activity from Parliament's Knowledge Exchange Unit to listen to a range of communities from the research sector about barriers they face in engaging with Parliament and their ideas for how Parlimaent can strengthen its work to support them.  

If you would like to know more about this work, please contact Naomi Saint, Knowledge Exchange Manager, on saintn@parliament.uk