February 23

5 Ways to Make a Positive Impact in the World – Insights from Diversity and Inclusion Campaigner and Deputy CEO at the Institute for Physics, Rachel Youngman

In this 5 things, Rachel Youngman, a Diversity and Inclusion Campaigner, and Deputy CEO at the Institute for Physics, shares her insights on how we can make a positive impact in the world. Rachel challenges stereotypes in STEM and shares her work on the Limit Less campaign, which encourages more girls and students from minorities to explore physics. She also highlights the importance of getting the full story by doing our research, supporting charities close to our hearts, and taking time to enjoy the beauty around us. Lastly, Rachel emphasizes the need to address our carbon footprint and offers tips on how to be more sustainable in our daily lives. By following Rachel’s advice, we can all do our part in creating a better world for ourselves and future generations.

One: Address stereotypes in STEM

What do you think of when someone says ‘scientist’? A lone male boffin in a white coat? Society perpetuates the preconception of scientists being white males, but I’m here to challenge that. In my role as deputy CEO at the Institute of Physics I spearheaded our first ever campaign – one to challenge stereotypes in physics and encourage more girls and students from minorities into this wonderful world. From engineering to combating climate change, physics offers myriad opportunities to join fascinating professions and really change the world. Our campaign is called Limit Less and amongst our achievements we worked with YouTube to add more physics-based content on their learning channel and have been commended for our collaborations working through platforms such as TikTok with influencers to bring science to young people in a fun and accessible way.

Two: Get the full story

So often I’ll pick up a paper or click on a news site and see horror stories about migrants ‘invading’ our country, or refugees ‘stealing’ opportunities from native Brits. This rhetoric is damaging and dangerous and paints a completely false picture of the real story. 

I’d encourage everyone to do their research, don’t take politicians or the media at face value, and certainly don’t be swayed by language, that’s entirely their aim.

Get the full story – the fact is that just a small percentage of people arriving in England are doing so for any type of financial gain, as people such as Suella Braverman and her cohort would have you believe. Most are fleeing persecution, famine, the displacement effects of global warming, war, the list goes on and on. And don’t be fooled by the people who try to convince you that all refugees hotfoot it to the UK. In fact less than 1% of global migration ends up in people seeking asylum in Britain. 

Three: Support someone 

Everyone has a charity close to their hearts, and I am honoured to be chair of the board at

Hibiscus, a charity for minority ethnic women caught up in the criminal justice system in the UK. With a background in social justice, it’s no surprise I felt drawn towards Hibiscus and supporting women who have often been trafficked into the UK, only to find themselves vulnerable once here. 

Four: Get outside 

With all the turmoil in the world it’s easy to ignore simple pleasures, but get up early to watch a sunrise, take a walk to a local beauty spot, or find yourself a spot to watch the sun set after a stressful day. It may sound cliche, but by giving yourself just half an hour to breathe fresh air and clear your head really can make all the difference. I enjoy a run to the local coffee shop – then a treat when I get there. If I’m feeling super healthy I’ll run back again, but sometimes it’s just as refreshing to walk back, listen to a podcast and just clear my head that way. I like to be aware of the beauty around me wherever I am, and take a few minutes for some deep breaths. I recently paid a visit to an immigration removal centre in Durham. It was a long day, and gave me lots to reflect on, but while I travelled through the countryside on the train I had seen the most beautiful sunrise. I posted a picture on Twitter and engaged in sunrise chats with some followers, and for the next half hour was able to see the power of nature!

Five: Go green 

We all have a duty to address our carbon footprint and examine whether we could make simple swaps to address larger issues like climate change. Leading by example is the best way, and at IOP we are consistently assessing our ESG goals and examining how we can better serve our members and supporters in a sustainable way. Not easy given the complexities of net zero! But it matters at home too, and simple swaps can make a big difference. I’m not a fan of offsetting, I believe we all have a duty to reduce our carbon emissions where we can, so I’m a keen advocate of walking wherever possible, cutting out unnecessary car and plane journeys, and being more mindful of waste we create.