Policy

This science committee highlights tech’s diversity crisis perfectly

By Oliver Smith 13 September 2017
Summary

"It's 2017, not 1817."

It’s a depressing sight.

Yesterday the House of Commons Science and Technology Select Committee eagerly tweeted that its membership has been confirmed.

The group who will scrutinise legislation and businesses on issues like the creation of artificial intelligence, diversity in STEM subjects and sexism in the tech industry is made entirely of men.

 

Before you assume that maybe these MPs were simply the most qualified to sit on such a technical committee, they are not.

Only a single MP, Graham Stringer from the Labour Party, has a background in science having used to be an Analytical Chemist.

Oh, and Stringer is also a vocal climate change sceptic, having long argued that it does not exist.

Brilliant.

As Dr Sue Black put it:

 

Saving grace?

Luckily there is hope, three spots on the committee have yet to be selected.

The chair of the committee, Norman Lamb, jumped on the issue this morning, writing to both Conservative and Labour Parties to ensure that there are women selected for these final three spots.

“I would like to encourage you in the strongest terms to do whatever you can to ensure that women are included in the remaining nominations…” he wrote.

 

How both Labour and Conservative Parties both managed to select a group of men for the committee is beyond excuse, and perfectly demonstrates the crisis that the wider tech industry is currently facing.

When appointing diverse leaders to a role “isn’t my problem” our subconscious biases are allowed to play havoc.

Lamb says he’s also putting pressure on both parties to review how they nominate MPs and with the House of Common’s Liaison Committee which sets the rules for such nominations.

This kind of oversight should never be allowed to happen again.