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Categories: Sanger Life8 December 20213.6 min read

Research Excellence: The Power of Diversity

Over October and November, the Sanger Institute hosted three speakers as part of our Research Excellence: The Power of Diversity series. You can read a short summary of the talks below, together with a video Q&A with the speakers.

These talks are part of our Race Equity strategy, which has been developed in collaboration with our community. The strategy is based on data, dialogue and research and is underpinned by four pillars: leadership, positive action, citizenship and processes.

The Sanger Institute has also recently launched the UK’s first Fellowship designed to support the career development of scientists from Black backgrounds. Find out more about the Sanger Excellence Postdoctoral Fellowship on the Sanger Institute website.

Tomi Akingbade

Tomi Akingbade is a first year PhD student at the University of Cambridge, working on neurodegeneration. Her passion for equality and representation in science led to her creating the Black Women in Science (BwiS) Network in 2018. The BWiS Network is a community for women of African and Caribbean heritage during their scientific careers.

Tomi spoke about her own career and experiences of working in science – highlighting the many points she could have left research and taken a different path. She also spoke about the pressures that Black women can face, both within and outside the workplace.

Dr Addy Adelaine

Dr Addy Adelaine is an international social worker and expert on action research and inclusive accountability. Action research is a philosophy and methodology that seeks transformative change by taking action and doing research simultaneously, and linking these together by critical reflection.

Addy spoke about her career, starting with her work as an engineer in disaster management. As a mixed heritage Black woman in engineering, she saw how voices were marginalised in engineering design, impact evaluation and assessments. Most engineers were male, and privileged, and Addy found that needs of disabled people, or women, were often not considered.

As an outsider in the engineering sector, she could see what was missing and challenge the status quo. These experiences early in her career led her towards working in equality. She founded Ladders4Action during her PhD, using action research as a practical way of dealing with the complexities of learning from experience, and connecting knowledge and action together.

Addy also spoke about the complexities of identity and experiences. In a world that has complex social problems, where race and ethnicity are social constructs and we are social people, there is always going to be change. She stressed the importance of changing dynamics, of learning from the past but recognising that what we did yesterday won’t work tomorrow – we need to be constantly adapting, learning, and getting better at what we do.

Dr Jason Arday

Dr Jason Arday is an Associate Professor in Sociology at Durham University in the Department of Sociology. Jason's research focuses on race, education and social justice.

Jason spoke about his recent research into understanding the impacts of experiencing inequality, particularly within the context of race. He is researching the residual effects or psychological scarring that might happen as a result of experiencing such discrimination. He also works to understand how to develop better systems that support people who experience racial trauma. He has worked with several organisations to create and implement something different – for example by providing training in racial literacy for NHS councillors and therapists.

Jason has also recently produced a report on the lack of Black history in the UK schools curriculum. He spoke about how this absence of cultural and historic understanding results in an amnesia where the contributions of Black and minority ethnic people are obscured. This, in turn, means that people head into society unprepared to challenge stereotypes, and unprepared to engage in the multi-ethnic and multi-diverse societies we live in.

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