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By Susan Raikes on

An equitable approach to engaging people with science

Director of Learning Susan Raikes shares the draft Equity Framework which will guide our work to engage everyone with science.

Open for All is one of the Science Museum Group’s five core values. It underpins how we work and affects the choices we make about what we do.

As we have examined our practice in the light of the Black Lives Matter movement, it has become very clear that we need both to do more, and share more, about our activities and plans.

In the last few weeks we have created a new draft Open for All Action Plan, based around four pillars of activity: grow a diverse workforce; build an inclusive culture; create places that are open for everyone; and engage everyone with science.

Being Open for All is a shared endeavour at the Science Museum Group, so we will use this blog series to share updates from a wide range of colleagues, and some external contributors, on a variety of areas.

Today through this blog post I am publishing our draft Equity Framework that will guide our work to engage everyone with science. Edit: the final Equity Framework has subsequently been published.

In a second blog post published today, my colleague Tilly Blyth examines how the choices we make about what to research can help us to understand the role objects in our collection had in supporting colonial structures and explores new roles that these collections might play in creating spaces that are open for everyone.

Group of young people wearing coloured overalls
Young people engaging with science as part of a participation project for Science City 1550 – 1800: The Linbury Gallery.

Our Equity Framework outlines key principles to consider in our work with audiences who feel excluded from science. It suggests methods and ways of working to address the unequal distribution of power and resources among individuals, communities and institutions.

Our work with audiences, both physical and digital, is already grounded in a science capital approach which is about trying to understand, identify, monitor and challenge inequalities so that everyone can feel that science is for them.

So why do we now feel the need to focus on equity not equality?

Equality aims to promote fairness and justice, but it can only work if everyone starts from the same place and needs the same things.

Equity recognises that no playing fields begin level. And it demands that we recognise that people start from different places and that we must try to understand what an individual needs to access the opportunities we offer.

The framework identifies four key principles that will help us to change how we work to ensure all people can have equitable access to an inspiring experience with science :

  • Identifying exclusion and inequity
  • Fostering an equitable environment
  • Working in partnership to make change happen
  • Reflecting and embedding structural change

In publishing a draft of the framework, we’re happy to acknowledge that this is very much a first step.

We know that it will require constant and comprehensive consultation, collaboration, reflection and adaptation as we continue to learn, change and grow into our value of being Open for All.

This article was amended to include the final Equity Framework, dated 16 October 2020.