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Empowering Equality in Physics

Margo Mouat (Theoretical Physics) contributed to Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) initiatives within the School of Physics and Astronomy as an Employ.ed summer intern. Learn about her role and the skills she developed.

1.            What did your role entail?

My role involved data analysis for the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) committee. My project had two parts. The first thing I did was to analyse responses of a staff workplace culture survey done in 2022. This involved thoroughly reading through free-form responses left in the survey and then using these to comment on the quantitative analysis that had been done. For the renewal of the School’s JUNO Champion status of the School an action plan was put together. Part of my job was to connect what staff reported to what the committee was planning to do, and to point out issues that weren’t being addressed yet. The second involved looking at the PhD application process at the Institute for Astronomy, to evaluate how the new blind application process was affecting who were getting selected for PhD places.

2.            What attracted you to this role?

I am studying physics and I liked the idea of doing an internship within the School. Alongside physics I am particularly interested in EDI issues. This was a great opportunity to get some work experience in that field and develop an understanding of how EDI is handled in professional environments, while still having a connection to physics.

EDI is important, and physics has historically been dominated by white men and its history is seen through a very Eurocentric lens. I believe that acknowledging the contributions of other groups and highlighting current scientists which do not fit this narrow view of physics is important in helping others see science generally as an option for them. Greater diversity leads to a greater variety of people working on physics problems, which can only be good for pushing science forward.

3.            What skills did you learn or develop during the internship?

My project involved a lot of data analysis, so I now feel a lot more confident in my data handling analysis skills. I have also worked a lot on my communication. I spent a lot of time working by myself but I had to reach out and speak to a variety of people working in different capacities. This gave me a lot of practice in writing clearly and professionally about my work to different audiences and asking different people for advice, feedback and help.

4.            Were there any particular challenges that you faced during the internship? If so, how did you do to overcome them?

The bulk of the work I did involved creating long and information dense documents, and towards the end of the first half of my project I had to create a presentation to give to the EDI committee about my findings. I found it challenging to try and choose which parts of the documents were the most important and how to communicate their importance visually to avoid massive blocks of text on PowerPoint slides. I spoke to my supervisor about this problem, and I was offered helpful feedback on my work to make it more accessible and told to work on something different for a day to clear my mind.

5.            What advice can you give other students who might be considering applying for an Employ.ed intern post?

Even if you’re not sure that the internship is right for you, give applying a go. The application process itself provides an opportunity to gain experience around work in professional spaces – you have to write a formal CV, cover letter and if you do well an interview opportunity. The Career’s Service offers a lot of support during the application process as well as during the internship itself. The other plus side is that you are able to complete and Edinburgh Award alongside the internship. Overall, I’d say it’s a great thing to go for and is a supportive environment for people who may not have a lot of other work experience.

Further information

Learn more about the School’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion initiatives:

School EDI

Find out about future Employ.ed internships:

Employ.ed on Campus internships 


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