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Graphene Flagship launches new diversity initiative

Published: 9 October 2020 - Rachael Morling

European research consortium, the Graphene Flagship has launched a new inclusivity initiative. Diversity in Graphene builds on the success of the Graphene Flagship’s Women in Graphene programme, but aims to represent all minority and marginalised communities, currently underrepresented in science. The initiative was introduced during the Graphene Flagship’s three-day digital conference, Graphene For Research, Innovation, Collaboration

The Graphene Flagship’s successful Women in Graphene initiative has been running since 2015, and has held numerous well-attended events, both in person and online, aimed at challenging gender bias in science and providing a support network for professional development. Diversity in Graphene expands upon the remit of Women in Graphene, to strive for the inclusion of all minority and marginalised groups, including people with disabilities, people of colour, and the LGBT+ community.
Diversity in Graphene was officially launched at a specially dedicated event during the Graphene Flagship’s annual conference, titled ‘Diversity brings us together’. 
The event began with a testimonial from Anne Goldberg, physicist and member of the Graphene Flagship’s strategic advisory council. Goldberg introduced and questioned mainstream discourse on diversity and inclusion.
Next was a session presenting a focus issue published in JPhys. Materials. Titled "Women's Perspectives in Materials Science: 2D Materials”, this initiative highlights the work of female researchers at different stages of their careers and provides a multitude of female role models in an industry where women are often less visible.
This talk was followed by a panel discussion of scientists who actively support underrepresented groups in STEM. The panel discussed their views and strategies for fostering an inclusive work environment.
“Often, the initiatives we see are about trying to change minorities to make them to fit into the systems we currently have, to make us function within a system that was designed by other people,” observed panellist Rachel Oliver, leader of TIGERS, a group that campaigns for inclusivity in STEM. “Instead, I'd like to encourage change to the systems themselves to make them work for everybody.”
Aitor V. Velasco is a founding member and director of education for PRISMA, a scientific association for LGBT+ equality in STEM. He agreed with Oliver, commenting “Diverse groups have been known to do better, more impactful science. So, diversity benefits science, but this is only part of it. No matter who you are, you should have the right to work in equal conditions.”
Other members of the panel included Barbara Rosa a speaker and advocate for people of colour in academia and Robert Sewell, who was recently appointed as the SPIE@ICFO chair for diversity in photonic sciences.
As its first action, Diversity in Graphene will set up a pioneering mentorship programme to support professional growth in underrepresented groups. Open to anyone working within the Graphene Flagship, it will connect early career researchers and students with more experienced scientists, based on career goals, experiences, and availability. Registration to the Graphene Flagship’s new mentorship programme is now live.

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