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Jamaican born Professor of Grains Science at the Heriot Watt University in Scotland, Geoff Palmer is expected to be one of the main presenters at the Royal Society’s Discussion Forum on: ‘Achieving ethnic minority participation in science’.
Titled ‘Ready SET (for Science, Engineering and Technology) Go: race for equality’, the forum is set for May 4. It will look at the size and the nature of the perceived problem of increasing the participation of ethic minorities in science; the barriers that may impact on professional ethnic minority scientists, and measures that could be taken to improve their progression.
The forum will also look at ‘good practice’ in interventions and in reaching ethnic minority communities.
Professor Palmer, who is an internationally renowned expert on grains, brewing and distilling will draw from his own experiences, ranging from when as a teenager in 1960s Britain, he was labelled,’educationally subnormal’, to the prejudices he has encountered in his career. He has, however, challenged many stereotypes and has advocated excellence in education and training as one way of breaking down racial and social barriers.
He told JIS News that he was very concerned that black and ethnic minorities were under-represented in the sciences. He said he was pleased that the Royal Society, the UK’s leading scientific body, was taking a serious look at this issue.
“I know that I and others have been concerned that even at the University, Afro Caribbean students were under-represented in the sciences and were mainly to be found in media studies and other areas,” he said, adding that this led to a stereotype that black students could not handle Maths or the Sciences.
Professor Palmer said he believed that an initiative used in Scotland to open access to University education to students from very poor backgrounds could be used to increase the numbers of blacks and ethnic minorities involved in the science. He said this would be the basis of his presentation at the Forum.