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Equality and diversity

The British Society for Immunology is committed to achieving a fair and equal working environment in immunology, accessible to all and free from discrimination regardless of gender, ethnicity, disability, sexuality or socio-economic background. 

We seek to promote the principles of equality, diversity and inclusion through our organisational policies, practices and behaviours. This includes all meetings and events, whether run centrally or by our constituent groups.

By working across basic and translational research and into the clinic, we represent a wide variety of immunologists working in human and animal health, and in the public and private sector. Our aim is to provide a platform for immunologists of all backgrounds to share their voice and encourage greater participation from underrepresented groups in all aspects of the Society. On this page, we explain what the Society currently does to promote equality and diversity internally, for our membership and the wider community.

Our membership

As part of our membership package we offer: free membership to residents of low income overseas economies; a concessionary membership rate to members on parental leave; free membership to undergraduates; reduced fees for postgraduates, those in ‘early careers’, and those on a low income.

Our events and meetings

We have guidelines for our Regional & Affinity groups and for our Congress Committee to ensure that there is both gender and broad regional representation across events. Particular direction is provided for programme development and speaker recruitment where we aim for an even gender balance for both speakers and chairs.

To help enable attendance for all at events associated with the BSI, including Congress, we offer reduced (concessionary) rates for certain groups. At Congress, we also make available a dedicated prayer room and facilities for breastfeeding mothers. In addition, we signpost to local childcare facilities; hold sessions within core hours where possible; provide sufficient notice to enable childcare arrangements; ensure accessibility is always considered; ask delegates for any specific requirements they may have, which we endeavour to meet whenever possible

Public engagement

Our website has been updated, enabling us to communicate effectively with different audiences.

We focus our public engagement work on impactful activities that access a wide audience. In doing this we hope to increase participation in, and understanding of, immunology within underrepresented groups.

Women in immunology

We regularly celebrate diversity in immunology. As showcased on our website and through social media, recently we have published several articles on women in immunology. For example, as part of our 60th anniversary celebrations in 2016, the BSI commemorated the contributions made to our discipline by outstanding female immunologists throughout our 60-year history. Additionally, to celebrate the achievements of women in STEM on Ada Lovelace Day (10 October), we presented a collection of high-impact articles authored by women that have been published in our journals. 

Within the BSI

We endorse greater inclusion, equality and diversity internally within the BSI. The BSI staff receive equality and diversity training.


We reflect the diversity of our membership’s gender, geography and professions within the managing body of the BSI. Our Board of Trustees has five women out of a total of 12 and encompasses a range of different occupations from academia, industry, clinics, law and finance. Furthermore, we are creating two new positions within the Board to be held by early career researchers (no more than 8 years post PhD graduation). We have a female Editor in Chief for one of our two journals (Clinical & Experimental Immunology) and women represent 60% of the Associate Editors for the Society’s other journal, Immunology. Both journals’ Editorial Boards have a wide geographic spread, with representatives from across the world.

We engage with a number of policy issues focussed on increasing access and diversity in the workplace. Forum is our membership policy committee, which is made up of immunologists through all stages of careers from PhDs to professors, with representatives from clinical and academic immunology.  The committee also has a fair reflection of gender, with 12 women out of a total of 21, and geographical spread across the UK.

Grants and prizes

The BSI offers a range of grants, offering financial support for a variety of different activities and we actively encourage applications from across the broad spectrum of our membership. Our Travel awards support the travel costs for members who wish to attend meetings and congresses worldwide, and the Summer Placement Award Scheme assists medical and postgraduate students with formal laboratory placements. Furthermore, our Communicating Immunology grants aim to promote immunology amongst a wider audience, with a particular interest in reaching new or traditionally hard to reach audiences.

The BSI also strives to promote excellence in the study and teaching of immunology through Immunology Undergraduate prizes and the Immunology Teaching Excellence Award. In addition, the BSI offers a number of prizes for oral communications and poster presentations at a variety of Society events. For instance, the Bright Sparks prizes recognise the research and presentation skills of early-career researchers attending Congress.

This repertoire of grants of prizes aims to offer support to members at a variety of different career stages, acknowledging the diversity within our membership. We actively encourage nominations for members at all career stages and from all backgrounds.

External representation

We are participants on the Royal Society of Biology’s Equality and Diversity Committee, which is “committed to ensuring equal opportunities in the life sciences, and supports diversity throughout the pipeline; at school and higher education, in the workplace and training.”

Whilst we want to celebrate all that we currently do to actively promote a culture of inclusion, equality and diversity, we are also constantly monitoring and reviewing our progress and striving to improve.

The BSI has set out an ambitious five-year plan which sets out how we plan to help our members at different career stages, working in partnership with other bodies such as universities, industry and the NHS.

We warmly invite any comments and suggestions from our membership on equality and diversity within the BSI.  Please contact