Updated: Mar 19

By Ben Bold , Research Live

UK – A diverse team of young researchers told an audience at Impact 2021 how their ethnicity helped them understand the experiences of a respondent “better than an older, white, middle-class researcher” in a project that was not just “about young people, but with and for them”.

The session, ‘When older, white, middle-class researchers are not right for the job’, took place at this week’s annual MRS conference. It was hosted by Dr Marie-Claude Gervais, research director at Versiti, who said that she hoped “in time, the industry becomes better equipped to understand contemporary society in its diversity and richness”.

The project was conceived by Versiti during the first Covid-19 lockdown, in April 2020, to study ethnic inequalities and the impact of the pandemic on young people.

Gervais highlighted several facts that had raised alarm bells:

Youth unemployment was three times the unemployment rate, with ethnic minorities two times more likely to report losing jobs; 46% of ethnic minority households saw income cut compared with 28% of white households; and 70% of 18-24 year-olds had poor mental health.

“The pandemic was beginning to take a disproportionate toll on the mental health of young people compared to older adults,” she said. “It felt really important to document and understand ethnic inequalities and the impact of Covid-19 on diverse groups of young people.”

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