A report released today by the House of Commons Select Committee on Science and Technology accepts that the Royal Society and the Royal Academy of Engineering offer, on the whole, good value for public money but takes issue with a number of their practices.
The MPs urge greater transparency in the learned societies' selection procedures and argue for more inclusivity of ethnic minorities as well as a review to ensure awards are "family friendly" and so attractive to women. The Royal Society, in particular, argue the MPs, needs to monitor the ethnic origin of its Fellows and should consult more with other learned societies in areas where it lacks expertise. Both, say the MPs, must guard against charges of elitism.
While welcoming the report and questions it raises, Lord May, president of the Royal Society, finds that the findings are "a little curious" with factual errors, misconceptions and inconsistencies.