Collecting and analysing diversity data

Diversity data on applications and award rates

Collecting and analysing diversity data supports our understanding of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) portfolio and is a key component of our equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) strategy. We use diversity data to monitor policy implementation and identify areas of concern or underrepresentation.

This contextual information informs us of where problem areas exist and where we can take a strategic lead to focus our interventions to address the challenges. Through investigating the EPSRC portfolio, it is possible to observe changes in both the applicant and award-holder populations.

It is important for EPSRC to have a strong understanding of the diversity of our portfolio, as we support approximately one-third of the engineering and physical sciences (EPS) population at any given time. Therefore, any changes we make have the potential to have a large influence on the EPS community.

Diversity data for all seven research councils

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) is committed to annually publishing harmonised diversity data for seven of the research councils. Detailed information on how the dataset was produced, interpretative guidance and a summary of findings are available in Diversity results for UKRI funding data.

The dataset contains data on four protected characteristics (sex, age, ethnicity, disability) for:

  • principal investigator (PI) and co-investigator grant applicants and awardees
  • fellowship applicants and awardees
  • PhD studentship starts.

Across UKRI, this information is being used to help identify challenges with respect to EDI so that we can take a strategic lead in working to address the challenges and promote EDI within the research and innovation landscape.

Find data and trends on the diversity of funding applicants and recipients for each research council.

Here are some key points from EPSRC’s diversity data from 2018-19:

  • For principal investigators, award rates by number became equal by gender in academic year 2015-16, and have remained within two percentage points since then.
  • Data for co-investigators fluctuates.
  • For the fourth consecutive year, women have higher award rates than men in our fellowship scheme.
  • Applications by age are consistent with Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) data. There is no discernible pattern in the age-related award rates data.
  • Around three-quarters of applicants describe themselves as White, while the number of ethnic minority principal investigators has risen by 3% to 18% and co-investigators to 17%.
  • Award rates for principal investigators who describe themselves as ethnic minority are consistently lower than those who disclose that they are White.
  • For the first time since 2014-15, the award rates of fellowship applicants describing themselves as ethnic minority (39%) is higher than those describing themselves as White (29%).
  • A proportion (7%) chose not to disclose their ethnicity. This is significantly higher in our student population (25%).

This analysis looks at grants by number of applications. Grant data by value is also available in the UKRI tableau dashboards.

EPSRC has undertaken a detailed investigation focused on gender to better understand the portfolio that we support linking grant size by value to award rates across our standard grants and calls. Our findings are reported in Understanding our portfolio: a gender perspective.

EPSRC has also undertaken a detailed ethnicity data investigation on our investigators, looking closely at the applications we receive and award rates for research grants and fellowships, as well as exploring participation in our peer review processes. See the findings in our detailed ethnicity analysis.

Diversity data related to peer review participation

We have published further diversity data to highlight the progress made to date to improve diversity in our peer review process, and the opportunities to continue to work with our communities to make further improvements. The data was published in response to a growing community interest in this information. It covers the academic years from 2014-15 to 2019-20, and includes diversity data by gender, age, ethnicity and disability for:

  • the EPSRC Peer Review College
  • the reviewer population invited to review proposals
  • the reviewer population providing a usable review
  • EPSRC internal and external panel membership
  • EPSRC internal and external panel chairs.

Here are some key points from EPSRC peer review participation: diversity data from 2014-15 to 2019-20:

  • The percentage of female peer review college members increased to 16.0% in 2019-20. The extent of the increase in female reviewers is perhaps more evident when compared to the number of female college members, which has doubled from 2011-12 levels.
  • Comparison with HESA data indicates that there is a slight overrepresentation in the peer review college in the later-age categories (50 to 59, 65+) and underrepresentation in the earlier categories (up to 29, 30 to 39).
  • The data shows progress towards achieving our mixed gender panel policy aspirations, with the number rising from 18.1% female in 2014-15 to 32.2% in 2019-20.
  • The number of panel members describing themselves as ethnic minority rose from 6.2% in 2014-15 to 12.3% in 2019-20, although this remains lower than the estimated academic population.
  • Data on panel chairs shows a significant increase in female representation, from 14.3% in 2014-15 to 28.4% in 2019-20.

How to access the data

The peer review diversity data report has detailed information on how the dataset was produced, along with interpretative guidance and a summary of findings. Individual spreadsheets are also available giving the data for:

  • EPSRC Peer Review College membership
  • HESA academic staff population estimate
  • chairs of EPSRC peer review panels
  • membership of EPSRC peer review panels
  • reviewers invited to submit reviews of EPSRC research proposals
  • reviewers submitting usable reviews of EPSRC research proposals.

Download the spreadsheets. The data can also be accessed via our interactive Tableau dashboards.

Last updated: 31 March 2022

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