At the Crick, we have a number of groups working together to make the Crick more inclusive, diverse, and a better place to work for us all. Our race equality group aims to support the success of minority ethnic staff and students and is made up of people from across the institute.
The team is following the principles of the Race Equality Charter (REC) and divided into smaller working groups to tackle specific issues such as intersectionality, education, and opportunity. Here, three of the members share their reasons for joining the group.
Simon Kimuda, research scientist
My work as a research scientist in the Chemical Glycobiology lab focuses on finding out what drives immunity to tuberculosis (TB), one of the leading causes of death from an infection. I joined the REC mainly to learn how we can combat inequality in research settings.
I experienced what I perceived to be discrimination based on my country of origin at my former workplace. This personal experience, along with the Black Lives Matter protests in 2020, made me realise that my academic accomplishments could not shield me from racism. I want to be part of the movement to stop discrimination in academia and provide opportunities to people from minority groups to join research.
I’m part of the education working group, where our aim is to increase diversity amongst PhD students and postdocs at the Crick as well as improve career support for existing members from racial minorities. So far, we are increasing the awareness of opportunities at the Crick in non-Russell group universities (where there is a higher percentage of BAME students), creating internships and sandwich programmes for students from minority ethnic backgrounds, making the language used in adverts more inclusive, promoting unconscious bias training among Crick group leaders involved in recruitment, and blinding during the selection processes.
Our group is composed of colleagues who have been working very hard to promote equality in academic institutions. My main goal is to learn as much as I can from them and contribute what I can to improve racial and ethnic diversity amongst PhD students and postdocs at the Crick.
Maryam Rahim, PhD student
I’m in the third year of my PhD in the Development and Homeostasis of the Nervous System lab, studying how the nervous system in the gut develops. As an international student from Pakistan, I felt that bringing my perspective as a person of colour to the REC would be a great opportunity to help make the Crick a more accessible place for students like me. I’m hoping I can help make the Crick an even more inclusive place by increasing the diversity of our student body.
I’m co-chair of the intersectionality working group, where our aim is to increase awareness of and discussions around intersectionality at the Crick. We think it is really important that people are able to talk about how different aspects of their identity impact their professional experiences, as well as appreciate how other experiences may differ from their own. To do this, we’re putting together resources on intersectionality, including a series of conversations around intersectionality between colleagues from different backgrounds. We hope this will be a great way to increase understanding and raise the profile of this extremely important topic.
I would like to understand some of the systemic issues that people from backgrounds like mine may face, and hopefully work towards combatting them here at the Crick. It has been fantastic to see many wonderful people on the committee, from all different backgrounds, with the same goal. I believe we can make meaningful changes – not just internally but in academia as a whole.
Erik Sahai, group leader
As group leader of the Tumour Cell Biology lab, I oversee a team of about a dozen students, postdocs, and technical staff. I’m responsible for initiating and guiding their projects, helping them to develop their skills and career paths, and ensuring that they work in a synergistic way.
I care deeply about leveraging knowledge from biomedical research to improve the lives of cancer patients. This is a big challenge, and to make the most progress we need to engage the brightest minds and most talented individuals. If we are only selecting the next generation of scientists from a subset of the population, then we’ll be missing out on talent that could make the next big discovery. A career in science should be equally available to all.
I am in the opportunity working group, where we are tasked with ensuring that careers (both science and non-science) at the Crick are equally open to all and that those already employed at the Crick progress in line with their abilities.
Looking back, many of us realise that we received some words of wisdom or encouragement from someone already working in research. But many people don’t have links to research through friends or family; we are working out how best to connect with them to provide advice and guidance about getting started with a career in science or research support.