Racism is ‘pervasive,’ according to research from the Royal Society of Chemistry

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There is only one black chemistry professor out of 575 in the UK.

In the 15 years that Robert Mokaya has been a professor at Nottingham University, he has had every application for research funding turned down by the UK Research and Innovation agency, the country’s principal chemistry funding organization.

Robert has done exceptionally well for himself, despite the continuous rejections of funding applications. He is a well-known materials chemist who specialises in the investigation of materials for long-term energy storage and has numerous scholarly publications to his credit.

He was able to complete his research thanks to donations from charities and learned organisations like the Royal Society, which only rewards academics who have a track record of quality in their work. Robert is a trustee of the Royal Society of Chemistry and a pro-vice-chancellor at Nottingham University (RSC).

Racism is “pervasive” in the profession, according to a report issued by the RSC.

The investigation also backs up Robert’s observations, revealing that minority ethnic researchers are less likely to receive grant funding, promotions, and pay. In 2019/20, a minority ethnic chemical sciences researcher received an average grant of £320,000, compared to £355,000 for white peers.

According to the RSC report, ethnic minority students are interested in studying chemistry at university but are turned off by what they perceive to be an unwelcoming academic research environment. This is especially true for black researchers and students.

According to official statistics, 4.9 percent of undergraduate students pursuing chemistry-related disciplines identify as black, which is much higher than the national average of 3.0 percent of the UK population. 

According to the RSC assessment, chemistry organisations have no incentive to develop. According to the report, the majority of activities are voluntary and appear to have minimal impact.

The RSC has established a race and ethnicity team to press for organisational transformation. 

According to Robert Mokaya, he believes that these activities will influence the future generation of ethnic minority chemical scientists.