Equality & Diversity

Black Lives Matter statement (26 June 2020)
Pride in our community – our Rainbow Blog series
The BOU Diversity Blog – highlighting diversity issues within ornithology
Pronoun visibility at the BOU – promoting pronoun visibility across BOU activities

The BOU is opposed to all forms racism and prejudice and is committed to diversity in ornithology. We aim to help overcome barriers preventing equality for ornithologists and all our activities are open to anyone interested in ornithology regardless of, but not limited to, nationality, gender, ethnicity, disability, sexuality and socio-economic status.

We are fulfilling this commitment via our Equality and Diversity Working Group and prioritising these key actions:

  • we have set targets of achieving a 50:50 male-to-female ratio in short lists for awards by 2022, and a 50:50 male-to-female ratio on Council (reached in 2020) and committees by 2022 (extra two years to allow more turnover during our Council and committees’ respective rotation terms). Gender targets require care, but we believe they’re essential to measure progress towards our commitments;
  • we are working to improve diversity and gender equality amongst nominees for awards, and increasing the transparency of the awarding process overall (see below);
  • we will continue to improve accessibility of BOU in-person and online events;
  • we will move beyond gender and actively support and promote LGBTQ+ and racial inclusion within ornithology;
  • by better understanding how the BOU is performing now will establish a baseline from which we can monitor our progress.

Some of the ways we’ve been delivering on equality, diversity and inclusiveness include:

  • switching to double-blind review for our journal, IBIS;
  • blind reviewing abstracts for presentation at our conferences;
  • all staff, Council and committee members are now undertaking annual unconscious bias awareness training;
  • using a gender-decoder to ensure key texts are not overtly gender-biased;
  • raising the awareness of equality, diversity and inclusiveness within our community in our online and face-to-face events;
  • asking our community about the issues important to them which we need to address.
  • appointing an Awards Nominations Committee to develop and oversee new nomination processes for our various awards to improve the equality, diversity and transparency of our awards.
  • increasing the membership and scope of both our Equality and Diversity Working Group and the Engagement Committee to which it reports, to better be able to develop and deliver on our key commitments above.
  • promoting and encouraging pronoun visibility across BOU activities.

The BOU recognises that equality and diversity is about a great deal more than gender equality. Ornithology has a very diverse global community but this is not always reflected within the discipline at national scales. We would like to see diversity improved across the discipline and at all levels. We are focusing on gender for the time being because these data are more easily gathered, there are a number of approaches to address gender imbalance, and many of the measures we take will benefit a range of other groups.

At our 2019 AGM, Rosie Trevalyan (Director of the Tropical Biology Association) was elected to BOU Council as our specialist equality and diversity Council member; Rosie was named as the Equality and Diversity Champion (2018) by the British Ecological Society.

Simple initiatives, such as seeking suggestions from conference delegates on equality, diversity and inclusiveness issues, are yielding some fantastic feedback and raising new issues for us to tackle which will benefit our community.

Related articles
Equality and Diversity Working Group

Graeme Buchanan (RSPB), (Chair), BOU President
Ailidh Barnes (British Trust for Ornithology), Engagement Committee member
Emma Cunningham (University of Edinburgh)
Tom Finch, Chair, BOU Engagement Committee
Daniel Hayhow (Earthwatch)
Leila Walker, BOU Chief Operations Officer

Meet the members of our Equality and Diversity Working Group

Other contacts:
Angela Langford, BOU Office Manager

Twitter profile images of presenters taking part in #BOU17TC