Today the Royal Historical Society (RHS) has launched its much anticipated report ‘Race, Ethnicity & Equality in UK History: A Report and Resource for Change.’
The full report includes significant, original research, and highlights the racial and ethnic inequalities in both the teaching and the practice of history in the United Kingdom. It highlights both the race-based bias experienced by BME historians in UK universities, and the lack of diversity and inclusion in many school and university curriculums.
Reflecting on the report, Professor Jo Fox, Director of the Institute of Historical Research says,
‘We have been talking about race equality in the historical profession for many years, but we have not made sufficient progress. The Royal Historical Society’s Race and Equality Report clearly identifies the issues, but more importantly makes numerous recommendations as to what we can all do to achieve greater race equality in all that we do. The IHR will be adopting the recommendations of the report in its activities, and we thank our partners and colleagues at the RHS for their critical work in promoting diversity and equality in the discipline.’
While historians will continue to process the full findings of this full report over the coming days and months in a more thoughtful and systematic way, here are ten key findings from the RHS report:
10 Key Findings from the RHS Race, Ethnicity & Equality Report
Only 11% of undergraduate history students in the UK come from BME backgrounds. BME pupils, who make up 23.9% of the overall undergraduate population, are less likely than their peers to choose History in school examinations and university applications.
BME representation is even worse among postgraduate students. Just 8.6% of history postgraduate students are from BME backgrounds, compared with 16.8% for all research subjects.
96.1% of university historians are White. This figure is higher than in most university subjects. The figure is especially stark for Black historians, who make up less than 1% of university history staff.
Discrimination and abuse experienced by university staff. An RHS survey of over 700 historians has found 29.8% of BME respondents directly experienced discrimination or abuse.
History curriculums are too narrow. The RHS reports that programmes of study and research in universities are often grounded uncritically in White and Eurocentric histories.
Change is happening, but more can be done. 86.3% of survey respondents reported that their department had tried to widen its curriculum beyond Britain and Europe in recent years. 58% reported efforts to incorporate histories of race and ethnicity. However, 17.5% said there has been resistance to such initiatives.
Equality and Inclusion training needed. The RHS recommends significant enhancement of equality and inclusion training in History departments to ensure dignity in the workplace.
We need more data. Improved data collection on the causes of BME attainment gaps will help reverse this problem, if combined with proactive collaboration with BME students and staff.
Take Positive Action. The RHS recommends increased understanding and use of Positive Action as a mechanism of change in student and staff recruitment to improve diversity in the UK historical community and beyond.
Think of the children! There’s a massive imperative to widen taught History curriculums in schools, to reflect the full diversity of human histories.
Download and read the full report here: RHS race report.