Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: EPSRC-WES ambassadors for women in engineering

EPSRC and the Women’s Engineering Society (WES) are partnering to support researchers with strong motivation to foster equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) in the engineering research and innovation landscape.

The initiative aims to promote understanding of gender issues and intersectionality in engineering, and support researchers who wish to become EDI ambassadors in their networks. The awardees are expected to work independently and as a cohort to set an agenda for their personal and collective goals as members of WES.

EPSRC will fund up to 15 WES memberships. You must be based at a UK research organisation eligible for UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) funding.

Who can apply

You can apply if you are a resident in the UK and meet at least one of the conditions below:

  • are employed at an institution eligible for UKRI funding at a level equivalent to lecturer or above
  • hold a fixed-term contract that extends beyond the duration of the membership and the host research organisation is prepared to give you all the support normal for a permanent employee
  • hold an EPSRC, Royal Society or Royal Academy of Engineering fellowship
  • hold fellowships under other schemes (please contact EPSRC to check eligibility, which is considered on a case-by-case basis)

Check if your institution is eligible for funding.

Eligible applicants will be researchers in an engineering field. You must also be eligible to apply for a WES full membership, but please note that for this opportunity applications are welcomed from investigators no matter what gender they identify with.

Submissions to this funding opportunity will not count towards the EPSRC repeatedly unsuccessful applicants policy.

What we're looking for

Scope

Analysis of our EPSRC portfolio from a gender perspective illustrates the need for interventions to address the well-established underrepresentation of women in the engineering and physical sciences (EPS) community.

In alignment with the EPSRC EDI action plan 2022 to 2025 the Engineering Theme is committed to driving positive change towards a more equitable, diverse and inclusive engineering ecosystem in the UK.

The initiative aims to provide successful applicants with opportunities to develop their understanding of gender, as well as intersectionality issues in engineering and support them to become EDI advocates in their networks, as well as connect their networks to WES.

Applications are welcome by eligible investigators no matter what gender they identify with. Extensive experience in EDI advocacy is not required but applicants are required to demonstrate their interest in this area as part of their application. This opportunity will provide the applicant with all of the benefits of a WES membership, as well as closer engagement with EPSRC on EDI, and in particular gender issues in engineering.

The awardees will be expected to work independently and as a cohort to set an agenda for their personal and collective goals as members of WES. At the beginning of their membership EPSRC will hold a meeting to enable successful applicants to share their experiences, knowledge, and best practice, and set out their plans for the duration of the membership.

The awardees will be expected to advocate creatively for gender inclusivity and equality in engineering, EPSRC and WES. EPSRC expects that successful applicants will be willing to report back on their experience, informing in this way the Engineering Theme’s future direction in this area.

Funding available

We plan to award up to 15 WES memberships. WES provide their members with a number of benefits including mentorship opportunities, access to a network of women engineers, opportunities to apply for bursaries and awards, as well as becoming able to serve on the WES council, to name a few.

Additionally, the remaining funds will be made available to the cohort as a small flexible shared pot. These funds could be used to cover costs for events or activities organised by the cohort and related to their membership. Procurement is expected to be made in a cost-efficient way. Things that can be covered include:

  • reasonable venue and equipment hire
  • reasonable catering costs
  • subsidised travel for attendees to enable inclusive participation, prioritising early career researchers
  • reasonable advertising costs if applicable

This is not an exhaustive list; other costs may be agreed after discussion with EPSRC. All costs should be in line with UKRI principles of public life.

Responsible innovation

You are expected to work within the EPSRC framework for responsible innovation.

How to apply

To apply please complete an online application form via SmartSurvey.

Please complete all sections on the form and in the assessment questions give examples to support your application.

Please note that information provided as part of this application will be shared with WES.

Deadline

EPSRC must receive your application by 4 May 2023 at 4:00pm. You will not be able to apply after this time.

Attachments

EPSRC will not be accepting any attachments as part of this application.

How we will assess your application

Assessment process

Completed forms from eligible applicants will be anonymised and undergo a selection process by a panel consisting of members of the engineering community with experience in EDI activities, as well as EPSRC and WES representatives.

Applications will be scored and ranked based on the responses to the questions in the application, in alignment to the selection criteria. Between candidates of equal merit, EPSRC will also seek to achieve an appropriate distribution of career stages and institutions across the individuals selected.

In the event of this funding opportunity being substantially oversubscribed as to be unmanageable, EPSRC reserve the right to modify the assessment process.

Assessment criteria

Opportunity specific criteria

EDI interest

A strong track record of activity (either through professional qualifications or specific job roles) in EDI is not essential. However, the applicant must be able to demonstrate an interest in EDI, for example via presence on a committee or group which have a role in tackling EDI issues, involvement in events focused on enhancing EDI in engineering or other.

This interest can include broader EDI issues, and may not be limited to gender issues. A prior interest in EDI issues other than gender is welcomed but the applicant must also demonstrate a willingness to learn and develop their knowledge of gender issues in engineering.

Value

The applicant must be able to describe how the benefits of this opportunity will help them develop their career, networks etc. that would not otherwise be possible without this opportunity. There should be a clear indication of how the membership will be used, for example, events that the applicant will attend or involvement in a mentorship scheme etc.

Advocacy

The applicant should be able to describe how they intend to use this opportunity to creatively advocate for gender inclusivity and equality in engineering as a discipline, and attempt to address some of the issues and challenges women encounter.

They should detail how they plan to maximise on this opportunity over the 12 month period for both themselves, EPSRC and WES, for example, will money from the small flexible shared pot be requested for activities.

You must demonstrate a willingness to engage in a 2-way dialogue between the community and EPSRC on EDI matters, pointing out potential links to the EPSRC EDI action plan.

Feedback will not be provided from the assessment panel.

Contact details

Ask about this funding opportunity

María Calderón Muñoz, Eirini Kokkali

Email: teamengineering@epsrc.ukri.org

Please write ‘EPSRC-WES ambassadors for women in engineering’ in the email subject.

Additional info

Background

EDI is a high priority for EPSRC and the Engineering Theme. We are committed to address barriers that prevent access of disadvantaged groups to research opportunities. EPSRC have developed an EDI action plan that sets out our priorities for 2022 to 2025.

Our action plan sets out why EDI is important for the engineering and physical sciences. It also sets out the context to our activities by outlining the composition of our community and the known challenges that are encountered as people progress their research and innovation career pathways.

This funding opportunity aligns with the plan’s action set three that seeks to ‘encourage and enable participation in engineering and physical sciences research careers through embedding EDI practice in our portfolio and the wider research community’.

The Engineering Theme is committed to driving positive change towards a more equitable, diverse and inclusive engineering ecosystem in the UK, in which currently women are still underrepresented.

WES, is a charitable company, founded in 1919 to support women in engineering. Over 100 years later, WES operates as a membership society, promoting the education of women in engineering and advancing the education of the public concerning the study and practice of engineering among women. Find out more information about WES.

Grant additional conditions

Grants are awarded under the standard UKRI grant terms and conditions.

Responsible innovation

EPSRC is fully committed to develop and promote responsible innovation. Research has the ability to not only produce understanding, knowledge and value, but also unintended consequences, questions, ethical dilemmas and, at times, unexpected social transformations.

We recognise that we have a duty of care to promote approaches to responsible innovation that will initiate ongoing reflection about the potential ethical and societal implications of the research that we sponsor and to encourage our research community to do likewise.

Related funding opportunities

This funding opportunity follows a first one in 2019, that awarded 9 memberships to WES to celebrate their centenary. In June 2021 EPSRC conducted an evaluation of the scheme and found that it had been a valuable opportunity for the members.

Further consultation with WES and advisory groups showed a strong support to continue this scheme.

Supporting documents

Equality impact assessment (PDF, 212KB)

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