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Data from: Breaking Barriers? Ethnicity and socioeconomic background impact on early career progression in the fields of ecology and evolution

Citation

Wanelik, Klara M. et al. (2020), Data from: Breaking Barriers? Ethnicity and socioeconomic background impact on early career progression in the fields of ecology and evolution, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.1zcrjdfpn

Abstract

The academic disciplines of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) have long suffered from a lack of diversity. While in recent years there has been some progress in addressing the underrepresentation of women in STEM subjects, other characteristics that have the potential to impact on equality of opportunity have received less attention. In this study, we surveyed 188 early career scientists (ECRs), defined as within ten years of completing their PhD, in the fields of ecology, evolutionary biology, behaviour, and related disciplines. We examined associations between ethnicity, age, sexual orientation, sex, socioeconomic background, and disability, with measures of career progression, namely publication record, number of applications made before obtaining a postdoc, type of contract, and number of grant applications made. We also queried respondents on perceived barriers to progression, and potential ways of overcoming them. Our key finding was that socioeconomic background and ethnicity were associated with measures of career progression. While there was no difference in the number of reported first-authored papers on PhD completion, ethnic minority respondents reported fewer other-authored papers. In addition, ECRs from a lower socioeconomic background were more likely to report being in teaching and research positions, rather than research only positions, the latter being perceived as more prestigious by some institutions. We discuss our findings in the context of possible inequality of opportunity. We hope that this study will stimulate wider discussion, and help to inform strategies to address the underrepresentation of minority groups in the fields of ecology and evolution, and STEM subjects more widely.

Methods

These data come from an online survey which aimed to obtain information on the barriers to career progression faced by early career researchers in the fields of ecology, evolutionary biology, behaviour, and related disciplines. The survey was hosted by SurveyMonkey, Inc. (USA) and a link to the survey was communicated via social media and email, via Evolutionary Directory (EvolDir), with a simple title ‘STEM survey’. We specified that respondents should be early career researchers within a maximum of ten years of completing their PhD. We asked questions about six characteristics (ethnicity, age, sexual orientation, sex, socioeconomic background, and disability) and four measures of career progression (publication record, number of applications made before obtaining a postdoc, type of contract, and number of grant applications made). We also asked questions about perceived barriers to career progression. We received a total of 188 responses. Due to the sensitivity of the data, we are unable to make the full dataset of responses available. The data presented here are aggregated data summarising the numbers of our survey respondents who identified with the characteristics our study reported on, and whether or not these people reported barriers. The average number of publications (first- and other-authored combined) per group is also included. Note that the age group and number of publications was reported at the time of PhD completion. 

Usage Notes

A full list of survey questions (and the format of answers) is provided in a ReadMe file.

Funding

European Society for Evolutionary Biology, Award: Equal Opportunities Initiative Fund