RMetS EDI Survey, 2023

The Royal Meteorological Society promotes equity, diversity and inclusion to create greater opportunity for every individual to fulfill their potential, irrespective of their background or circumstances.

Understanding the representation of groups across our membership helps us to establish where we can do more to ensure people feel welcome at the Society.

In Spring 2023 we collected information about our members via two surveys.

The first survey was open online to all members during February and March 2023. 388 individuals provided representation and experience information. In this survey, responses were split near-evenly between academics, operational or professional meteorologists, enthusiasts and retired meteorologists. There were very few responses from early career members.
 

Chart showing meteorological involvement of respondents to RMetS Spring 2023 EDI survey.

Meteorological involvement of respondents to the RMetS' Spring 2023 EDI survey.


The second survey was completed by 51 members during the Student and Early Career Conference (SECC) in July 2023. The SECC survey was completed exclusively by students and early career professionals and researchers, predominantly in the “up to 24” and “25-34” age categories.

 

What did we learn?

Caring

20% of respondents said they had caring responsibilities. 8% of respondents said they faced small or occasional barriers to engaging with RMetS. Free text responses said barriers had reduced since the adoption of hybrid or online meetings and respondents expressed a desire for these meetings to continue.

Disability

23% of the participants reported having a disability or long-term health condition. When we asked about barriers faced due to their disability, we found that social barriers were more prominent among student and early career members. Physical, travel/transportation and communication barriers were more prominent among other groups. Both groups mentioned facing attitudinal barriers.

Race and Ethnicity

88% of respondents were White. Representation of other ethnic groups was very low, particularly for Black ethnicities. The lack of ethnic diversity, in particular the lack of representation from Black communities in STEM and environmental sciences, is well known. RMetS’ ethnic diversity is therefore part of a much larger societal issue – however this does not mean there is nothing for the Society to do.
 

Chart showing race and ethnicity of respondents to the RMetS' Spring 2023 EDI survey

Race and ethnicity of respondents to the RMetS' Spring 2023 EDI survey.

 

Religion

Most survey respondents identified either as having no religion, or with the Christian religion. 
We asked this question to allow us to take into consideration timing for planning events and to accommodate people in relation to diet or prayer space.

Sex and gender identities

The question posed featured both sex and gender identity options. 71% answered “male”, 26% “female” and 1% “non-binary”.
5% of the survey participants said that their self-identified sex or gender differed to that on their birth certificate. As the only options on UK birth certificates are ‘male’ or ‘female’, this may indicate identification as transgender and/or non-binary, or respondents with birth certificates from elsewhere that allow different options. Since the SECC survey was conducted at a conference with a smaller group, we did not seek further clarification.

Sexual orientation

82% of survey respondents identified as heterosexual. The next largest groups were bisexual individuals and gay men. Sexual orientation identities were more varied amongst the younger age groups from the survey. For context, UK national statistics in 2021 show 89% declaring heterosexual.

Differences based on career stage  

Students and early career members (strongly correlated with membership of the lower two age groups) showed more diversity of religion, ethnicity and sexual orientation than survey respondents overall. The younger age groups were also more gender balanced. However, free text responses indicate that members of these early career groups who identify with a minoritised ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation background still experience barriers and discrimination. This means it cannot be assumed that diversity across the Society’s membership will increase with time.
 

Member views on EDI

Members gave their views about anything they had noticed in relation to EDI at RMetS, along with their ideas for future actions and activities. The responses revealed a range of attitudes to EDI in general and to the involvement of the RMetS in this type of activity.

Advances in gender equality and relative lack of ethnic diversity were the most mentioned topics, along with questions about how the Society could be more inclusive of those from different geographic regions and with different financial constraints.

Suggestions for future actions included working with other organisations to bring more diverse groups into STEM and meteorology, ensuring that speakers at events bring a range of experience and perspective, and keeping online meeting options. 

Members also remarked on the lack of visible diversity across RMetS' staff and committees.
 

Chart showing RMetS' member insights into barriers and limitations faced in day-to-day life.

RMetS member insights into barriers and limitations faced in day-to-day life.

 

What will RMetS do as a result of the survey?

Members were clear: Everyone who wants to be a part of the Royal Meteorological Society should be enabled to do so. Based on insights from the survey, the Society has identified the following priorities for equity, diversity and inclusion action:

  • Be clearer about why equity, diversity and inclusion are important for the RMetS and what being equitable and inclusive means in practice.
  • Create supportive content focusing on EDI basics to help educate on what EDI is and why it is important to the Society. 
  • Create a new EDI web page in the RMetS’ website where people can go to find out more, understand what they can do to help, and where the Society will be accountable for taking action. 
  • Include EDI as a standing item at the start of all committee agendas.
  • Develop accountability process for inclusive events guidance being used by those organising meetings and events from our membership and RMetS staff.
  • Provide an EDI contact at all large meetings and conferences to support attendees on any inclusion related issues.
  • Complete a cross-Society review of how we are encouraging people into meteorology and related disciplines to identify any missed opportunities and places where we can work harder (including via partnerships with other societies or organisations) to reach communities currently under-represented.
  • Identify opportunities to support our members from currently marginalised groups. For example, by supporting LGBTSTEM meetings, BBSTEM schemes, and events marking important dates for different communities.
  • Review our expectations of inclusive behaviours and how these are communicated to Committee Members, Members and Fellows.
  • Ensure there are clear methods to report any bullying, harassment, discrimination or hate speech. 

The Royal Meteorological Society thanks its members who took part in this survey.  By providing insight into how different groups are represented within the membership base, members have played a key role in establishing where more can be done to ensure people feel welcome. EDI is a central theme to the RMetS strategy, as the Society works to encourage the meteorological community to be both diverse and inclusive. The results of the survey are being used to inform the Society’s next steps and actions, to create and implement a detailed action plan.