1) Intersectional Approaches to Diversity in STEMM: Belief, Culture, and Inclusion

Online - a link will be sent to you before the event
Wednesday 7 July 2021 (15:00-16:15)
Shadow of a face

The lack of diversity in STEMM fields has been a topic of interest among educators and policymakers for many years.  However, the overwhelming majority of research in this area, especially in Europe and North America, has focused on gender and race.  There has been little research into or policy reflection on the underrepresentation of religious individuals in STEMM, as well as analysis of other cultural variables and intersectionality. 

In order to address this absence, this public plenary panel discussion brings together a group of international speakers to talk about the role that religious and secular identities play in including and excluding people from science education and careers. With contributions from scholars and scientists based in India, the United States, Netherlands and the UK, the panel with explore varieties of religious exclusion and how these play out in different areas of science and in different national contexts. The event will also mark the launch of a new research hub dedicated to the study of these issues within the University of Birmingham, the Diversity in STEMM and Innovation Research Group.

STEMM and Belief in Diverse Contexts Conference 2021 

This public lecture is part of the STEMM and Belief in Diverse Contexts Conference July 7-9 2021

In the last decade, there has been significant growth in social scientific and humanities research focusing on science, religion and belief in society. Greater attention is being paid to the varied ways in which perceptions of different aspects of STEMM subjects (science, technology, engineering, medicine, and mathematics) have been, or are, influenced by religious and non-religious belief, identity, community and conflict in different geographical, cultural and historical contexts.  This conference will bring together international researchers with backgrounds in sociology, science and technology studies, psychology, political science, history, social anthropology, and related humanities or social science disciplines, to discuss perspectives on the overarching topic of science and belief in society.

Future Directions

This event will mark the launch of the Diversity in STEMM and Innovation Research Group within the University of Birmingham’s Institute for STEMM in Culture and Society. The Research Group will bring academics from a range of science and humanities disciplines together with practitioners working in widening participation and career development to address inequalities in the sciences, both in higher education and industry, in the UK and globally. 

The cluster emerges out of ground-breaking research carried out at the University of Birmingham examining how cultural and historical narratives about science and society facilitate stereotyping and social exclusion. It extends this work, drawing on expertise from psychology, sociology, education and business and management, as well as STEMM disciplines. Over the coming months, the Research Group will be working within partners nationally and internationally to advance research and practice in this area, with the ultimate aim of making STEMM careers more accessible. 

Our panellists 

Elizabeth Barnes, Assistant Professor of Biology Education at Middle Tennessee State University

Elizabeth Barnes studies how to encourage effective science education across religious divides about controversial science topics. She is an assistant professor of biology education in the department of biology at Middle Tennessee State University and runs the social perceptions of science lab. Her work takes a unique approach to the teaching of controversial topics in biology by fostering science education for religious students through a lens of inclusive science education. The majority of her work has focused on the teaching and learning of evolution to religious students in college biology classes and she has uncovered how evolution education that does not consider students’ religious beliefs can lead to more negative attitudes towards evolution and an unwelcoming environment for women and underrepresented students. Her work on evolution education includes both qualitative and quantitative research approaches and has been featured in the media including Scientific American

Lucy Avraamidou, Associate Professor, Rosalind Franklin Fellow, University of Groningen 

Her research is associated with theoretical and empirical explorations of what it means to widen and diversify STEM participation in school and out-of-school settings through the lens of intersectionality. At the heart of the account of her work is an exploration of minoritized individuals' identity trajectories and negotiations with the use of narrative and life-history methods. 

Professor Ram Ramaswamy, Visiting Professor, Indian Institute of Technology Delhi

Ram Ramaswamy was at the School of Physical Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University from 1986 to 2018.  From 2001 to 2018 he also held a concurrent position in the School of Computational and Integrative Sciences at JNU.  He retired from the university at the end of October 2018.  Currently he is at the IIT-Delhi as a Visiting Professor in the Department of Chemistry. 

Dr Stephen H. Jones, Lecturer, University of Birmingham

Stephen H. Jones is a sociologist specialising in the study of Islam and Muslims in the UK and religious and non-religious publics’ perceptions of science. His research has focused on themes including Islam and liberalism; Islamophobia in contemporary Britain; Muslims’ perceptions of science; and religious diversity and inclusion in STEMM institutions and disciplines. He is Lecturer in the Department of Theology and Religion, University of Birmingham, where he is also Deputy Director of the Institute for STEMM in Culture and Society and leads the Diversity and STEMM and Innovation Research Group. He is editor (with Tom Kaden and Rebecca Catto) of Science, Belief and Society: International Perspectives on Religion, Non-Religion and the Public Understanding of Science (University of Bristol Press, 2019) and author of Islam and the Liberal State: National Identity and the Future of Muslim Britain (IB Tauris, 2021). 

Dr Carissa Sharp, Research Fellow, University of Birmingham

Carissa is a psychologist of religion whose research focuses on the intersection of belief, identity, and intergroup relations across cultures.  Her research addresses several interconnecting aspects of the psychology of religion, using methodologies largely drawn from the wider field of social and experimental psychology. These aspects of the psychological study of religion have wide-ranging implications including personal well-being, diversity/inclusion, and stereotyping/prejudice. 

Dr Hina Shahid, Chair, Muslim Doctor’s Association

Dr Shahid is a General Practitioner and Chairperson of the Muslim Doctors Association. She has an interest in chronic disease and elderly care, palliative care, mental health, public health and humanitarian medicine. She is an honorary clinical tutor at Imperial College Medical School and a GP Appraiser. She has worked in a number of research and humanitarian settings in Europe, Asian and the Middle East. Her MSc thesis was part of a UN project on the socioeconomic determinants of chronic disease among refugee populations in Lebanon.  She was the recipient of the British Muslim Awards for Services to Medicine in 2017 and was named as one of the top 100 influential Muslims in Britain in 2018. She was shortlisted for the Asian Women of Achievement Awards 2018 and is an Ambassador for the Women of the Future programme connecting students with role models to inspire the future generation of females. She was also the recipient for the Royal College of General Practitioners International Travel Scholarship in 2019 for her work in Palestine.

Culture and collections

Schools, institutes and departments

Services and facilities