Institutional Discrimination in Science

Falling Walls Circle Tables are lending the spotlight to world-leading scientists, science strategists and policy-makers from academia, business and politics discuss how we can apply science, research and innovation to get the world moving again.

The killing of George Floyd has triggered global protests challenging institutional discrimination and racism. In this Falling Walls Circle Table, the panellists shattered the myth that academia is either objective or impartial. Watch how this panel examined research’s complicity in racism, and the necessary ways forward to reform our institutions.

The history of race is interwoven with the history of science. In modern science, people of colour are hindered through barriers to entry, as well as barriers to progress. But racism also impacts how research is carried out: the questions it asks and answers, and the stories it tells.

How do we begin to improve science’s relationship with race? We hear about the efforts South Africa has made to completely reform academia by actively confronting barriers to representation. This includes the importance of symbolic gestures – such as the naming of buildings – as well as community provisions, and adequate financing.

However, any question of “Institutional Discrimination” and “Racism in Science” cannot end within the scientific community alone. Discrimination and Racism directly intersect with other forms of inequality, such as gender and poverty. Ultimately, institutional discrimination in science cannot be addressed in isolation. As Adam Habib explained, “you can’t think of… deracialising science without deracialising society.”