Research reveals need for more diversity in History

Dr Jonathan Saha, Associate Professor of Southeast Asian History has been involved in research which has found a need for greater diversity in the History subject area.

The report, published by the Royal Historical Society's Race and   Race, Ethnicity & Equality Working Group, which is chaired by Dr Saha found that History is a less popular choice amongst Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) students than their peers for A-level and degree study. At University level, only 11% of students come from BME backgrounds which highlight the need for more diverse content of curriculums in schools and universities to engage a wider pool of students, and the need for historians to articulate more clearly the benefits of studying for a History
degree to prospective and current BME students.

Diversity amongst university academics in the field of History is even more concerning among UK-national staff, 96.1% of university historians are White, a figure again higher than in most other subjects. Representation is particularly low for Black historians, who make up less than 1% of UK university-based History staff. Additionally, one third of BME respondents to a recent Royal Historical Society survey reported witnessing discrimination or abuse of colleagues and/or students based on race or ethnicity during their academic employment, and 29.5% reported having experienced such discrimination themselves.

Dr Saha said “The Report's finding that almost 95% of academic historians are White, while only 0.5% are Black, should be concerning enough. That it also reveals that nearly a third of the BME historians who responded to our survey had directly experienced discrimination or abuse because of their race is frankly alarming. The Report is a clarion call that should galvanise university historians to take action to help reform their departments, universities, and the discipline as a whole.”

The report highlights a need for action with advice and guidance for addressing this situation.