By Maria Taylor, Jacob Hung, Thi Elena Che,
This study presents a case for decolonising the life sciences curriculum to improve representation of the Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic (BAME) scholars—a step in eliminating the race “awarding gap”. Here, we investigated diversity among authors in terms of ethnicity and gender of reading lists at the School of Life Sciences, University of Sussex. We show that the reading lists are not diverse and do not represent the demography of the student body. For instance, a disproportionately high number of authors in the reading lists are white 83.40 ± 5.70% (n = 977 authors), male 75.90 ± 5.40% (n = 878 authors), and of European descent. Additionally, our analysis of the geographical locations of publications reveals that a significantly high number of our materials stem from the USA or the UK, whereas the second highest global output of scientific literature (after the USA) comes from China, which is only featured in 1.02% of the reading list. Moreover, we constructively provide potential solutions to decolonise the curriculum of the University of Sussex’s School of Life Sciences by diversifying their reading lists. This study should help to establish a foundation, along with other work that is being conducted, to address the BAME awarding gap and to better showcase the work of women and ethnically underrepresented scientists in history and in modern day.
Keywords: decolonisation of the curriculum; BAME awarding gap; reading lists; representation; gender; race