Coffee time

Image by Foundry Co from Pixabay

Maintaining an inclusive environment for everyone in the Physics department at Exeter is a priority for our Inclusion Group. Some of our activities focus on meeting recognised standards of good practice from schemes such as Project Juno from the Institute of Physics. In addition to this, we regularly seek feedback and suggestions from staff and students in the department via our annual Pulse check event. One suggestion has been to increase the opportunity for social interaction.

Far from being a superfluous addition to the working day, social interaction at work can be vital for creating an inclusive environment. The increased contact increases social bonds, fostering a sense of belonging and promoting positive working relationships. As well as enhancing collaboration and cooperation, this can help nurture an inclusive environment.

In Physics, we now invite all PhD students, postdocs, academic staff, and professional service staff to meet up twice a month. We started with a monthly Friday afternoon event and then, following requests to widen the scope, added a monthly Tuesday morning event. We currently attract around 30 to 40 people, some who regularly attend and some who drop in occasionally.

Pulse check 2019

On Friday 22nd March the Physics Inclusivity Group held their fifth annual ‘pulse check’. The aim of the event was to capture the thoughts and feelings of everyone that works and studies in the Physics department at Exeter and get suggestions on how we can improve our working environment and culture. Staff and students were all asked if they would like to provide anonymous feedback in the form of post-it notes placed on large pieces of paper in the foyer of the department. Engagement with the event was very good and, with some additional motivation provided by the offer of free chocolate, produced over 100 comments and ideas that are being considered and taken forward by the Inclusivity Group.

International Women’s Day 2019

As the world celebrated International Women’s Day this March 8th, so did we at the University of Exeter. The Women in Physics network co-hosted a social event with other STEMM network groups –  the National Sciences Equality Network and Women in Climate. It was a lovely time to chat over tea and coffee and cakes and to meet other people from similar networks.

The theme of IWD this year was #balanceforbetter. We encouraged everyone to make a pledge to improve the experience of women – for example, “we will help forge a more gender-balanced world”. Here are the network’s chairs, Anna and Eve, making their pledges.

The Women in Physics group was founded in 2017 and meets regularly for social events and discussions about the experience of women in physics and STEMM subjects in academia. To join our mailing list so that you can come along for these events (with coffee and tea included), please contact Anna Laws or Eve Nebbiolo. You can also follow our events on Facebook ( ) and Twitter (@Exeter_WiP).

PRISM Speakers Event

PRISM, the Exeter-wide network for LGBTQ+ people and their allies working and studying in STEMM fields, held their first Speakers event of 2019 on January 15th. The network aims to promote the work of LGBTQ+ individuals in STEMM as well as sharing the successes (and failures) of diversity initiatives. Two members of the Department of Physics and Astronomy presented talks.

Alison Young, an ally to the LGBTQ+ community, provided a summary of the STEM Gamechangers workshop which occurred in London in September 2018 and introduced the audience to the “Scientists are Humans” initiative she helped set-up. Her project aims to encourage scientists to “be more kind”. Their manifesto is shown below.

Claire Davies, who founded PRISM in July 2018, presented an overview of the 4th annual LGBT “STEMinar” (see #LGBTSTEMinar19 on twitter) which had taken place in London 4 days earlier. Claire highlighted some of the incredible research being undertaken by LGBTQ+ individuals across the UK and further afield. She also continued a discussion from the “STEMinar” on the potential impacts of the internationalism of the STEMM sector on LGBTQ+ researchers.”

IOP awards ceremony

Members of the physics and astronomy inclusivity group travelled to the Institute of Physics Awards Dinner 2018 on London on the 20th November to receive our Juno Champion Award. The award was presented by IOP President Dame Julia Higgins (L to R: Jude Meakin, Jenny Hatchell, Nick Stone, Julia Higgins, Nathan Mayne).