Diversity in science
By putting a focus on diversity we can make sure that we capture the very best ideas and talent to support the highest quality research. We believe that everyone should have a fair and equal opportunity to participate in the science system to their fullest potential.
The Diversity in Science Statement sets out our ambition to promote diversity in science and research. This diversity statement is our first step towards raising awareness of the importance of diversity in science and signals our commitment to do more in this space. The next step will be to start collecting data which will inform a pathway to equity in the science system.
Diversity data, research and target measures
In the New Zealand scientific work-force, there are target groups who have historically been under-represented. Female doctoral degree graduates are exceeding males, yet women make up only 32% of the scientific work-force (source: NSR Vol 67 - Sommer, 2010 [PDF, 4.6 MB]). There were also large discrepancies for certain careers, for example:
- Women accounted for only 12% of those working in the field of engineering (source: Science and Innovation System Performance 2016 Report [PDF, 5.9 MB]).
- While nearly a quarter of the New Zealand population identified as Māori or as 1 or more Pacific ethnic groups (source 2013 census), individuals from these groups make up less than 2% of the scientific work-force (source: NSR Vol 67 - Sommer, 2010 [PDF, 4.6 MB]).
We need to collect more data to build a clear picture of how diverse our New Zealand science community currently is and to think about whether or not targets are a useful way for us to achieve our diversity goals. As a baseline, we share with you what we do know now on the gender diversity of the:
Gender diversity in science fund assessment panels
We run a number of assessment panels that provide advice on what proposals to fund.
In 2017 we ran funding rounds for 8 investment mechanisms for which nearly half (42%) of all the assessment panel members were female.
However only 12% of the panel chairs were female.
Gender diversity in the National Science Challenges
Our 11 National Science Challenges (NSCs) are focussed on issues that matter to all New Zealanders. It’s extremely encouraging that nearly half of these important investments are being led by female directors.
Women are also well represented across the NSC leadership teams, governance boards and advisory panels. This positive trend continued in the NSCs mid-way reviews. The challenges also have strong involvement from Māori through Kāhui Māori.
Gender diversity in the Endeavour 2017 funding round
The Endeavour Fund is our largest contestable research fund. The Endeavour Fund invests in excellent research that has high potential to positively transform New Zealand’s future economic performance, sustainability and integrity of our environment, help strengthen our society, and give effect to Vision Mātauranga.
We found little statistical difference when assessors scored proposals from applicants of their own gender versus scoring proposals from the opposite gender.
Gender information is not yet being officially collected from applicants seeking funding or contract holders receiving funding. For the purposes of establishing a baseline, the following data was derived from our funding database and has not specifically been authenticated with individuals. We need to refine our data collection techniques so that these issues will be addressed in future data collection cycles and be expanded to cover ethnicity and career stage.
In this section
Listen to New Zealand researchers share their personal career journey and thoughts on what progress has been made to promote diversity and what more can be done.