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Last Updated: Thursday, 16 June, 2005, 12:00 GMT 13:00 UK
Ethnic divide in science exposed
Science student measuring
There are big variations within broad ethnic groups
Black Caribbean and Bangladeshi people are the least likely to study or work in science after GCSEs, a report says.

They are the most under-represented groups in science, engineering and technology, according to a study for the Royal Society.

But there are big differences within broad ethnic groups, said the research team from Warwick University.

The research also found men to be four times more likely than women to be working in or studying science.

The study compared the participation of various UK ethnic groups in science, engineering and technology with that of Britain's white population.

Researchers analysed data from three sources for variations in participation by age, sex and ethnic group.

White under-representation

They said the two main disadvantaged groups in terms of participation were the Bangladeshi population - especially women - and the black Caribbean group - particularly men.

A total of 1.6% of the Bangladeshi population and 2.3% of the black Caribbean population are involved in science, engineering or technology, compared to just over 5.3% of the white ethnic population.

Asian groups were in general well-represented. Chinese and Indian groups were over-represented compared to the white UK population.

Black Africans were also well-represented, but the black Caribbean population was under-represented.

The researchers said white Britons were under-represented in some respects, compared with the size of population - for example, in terms of the numbers studying science subjects.

The report concluded that ethnic minority groups were not necessarily disadvantaged in terms of access to and participation in science, engineering and technology.

Professor Peter Elias, co-author of the report, said: "This report provides the clearest picture yet of participation in science among ethnic minority groups in the UK.

"Two things come out clearly. Firstly, we need to define ethnic groups as accurately as possible to gain a useful picture. And secondly, black Caribbean and Bangladeshi populations are least well represented.

"The report also reveals some possibly more surprising results. For example, in some respects, the white population is also under-represented compared with its population size."

Professor Elias said it was in the area of science study that white Britons were under-represented.

"However, areas of white, and often male, domination remain, particularly with regards to high achievement in academic science," he said.

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