Profiling UK regulated professions by ethnicity and sex, and ways to improve their representativeness

Lead Research Organisation: Queen Mary, University of London
Department Name: School of Business and Management

Abstract

This project would examine the distribution by sex and by national origin or ethnicity [subsequently called just ethnicity for short] of members of UK regulated professional bodies, such as accountants, doctors, engineers and solicitors. The intention would be to see if some groups, such as Bangladeshi women, are significantly under-represented; whether the situation has changed over recent decades, and what steps are being or could be taken to improve the representativeness of the chartered professions and other professional groups. It will also examine any barriers to the advancement of minorities within their professions.
The methodology proposed is to compare the surnames and the given names of the professionals with two large proprietary databases of names that have been classified by ethnicity and by sex. This would enable almost all the names to be classed into some 200 different ethnicities, including 20 Indian states and over 40 European countries. Determination of sex is less complete as some given names are used by both sexes, such as Hilary; we allocate sex only where at least 90% of given name occurrences are of one sex. (However many individuals use more than one given name, and this will nearly always allow them to be sexed.)
This methodology has three great advantages over the conventional system of asking individuals to complete a form. First, it is non-intrusive; second, it is much more complete as there is often the option on questionnaires of "prefer not to say"; and third, the ethnicities are much more closely defined. However, it does have two failings: it does not deal very well with people of West Indian/Caribbean origin who may have "English" names, and it does not cater for women whose married names are of different ethnicities from their maiden names.
This analysis of the composition of the professions will be complemented by surveys of their members, especially those of ethnic minorities and women, in order to learn about the difficulties (if any) that they faced on gaining entry and in seeking to advance their careers. It would also ask about external help that they received, including financial assistance and advice from mentors or family members. These questionnaires would be developed in consultation with members of the administrative staff of the professional bodies, who would be asked to contact selected members of their professions and ask them to take part in a survey. This would be administered face-to-face with a small number of professionals in order to check that the questions were appropriate and clear, and subsequently either by telephone or in writing using email.
We would then work with the administrative staff of the professional groups to explore ways in which they could improve the inclusiveness of their professions. This would not only promote social and ethnic cohesion, but also provide a source of additional professional talent. We would also publicise the findings widely in order to stimulate public debate.

Publications

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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
ES/P000703/1 01/10/2017 30/09/2027
1916148 Studentship ES/P000703/1 01/10/2017 29/01/2022 Mursheda Begum