The Challenger Society for Marine Science Membership Survey Report

Collated by Chelsey Baker on behalf of The Challenger Society

In August 2021 The Challenger Society for Marine Science launched a membership survey to aid the Society in understanding the role it plays, the benefits it brings to members and how it can continue to develop in the future. The survey also included equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) focused questions to allow the Society to monitor the protected characteristics of previous awardees and fellows, as well as of the general membership, to provide a baseline to begin a diversity monitoring initiative. The survey was open from the 9th of August 2021 until the 17th of September 2021.

The response rate was 18% of the total paid Challenger Society membership. It should be noted that an equal number of ‘Retired’ and ‘Postgraduate Student’ members responded, despite ‘Postgraduate Students’ making up a much greater proportion of the Challenger membership. 

Challenger Society membership type and membership type of survey respondents

Figure 1. a) Challenger Society Membership Type (paid members only) and b) Membership Type of survey respondents. Number of responses are shown. No respondents selected honorary life member, library membership, I am not a member or prefer not to say.

Graph of how many years members have been part of the Society 

Figure 2. How many years have you been a Challenger Society member? (Record the total number of active years if there have been breaks in membership). Number of responses are shown. No respondents selected I don’t know or prefer not to say.

Graph of whether members joined as a student


Figure 3. Did you join the Challenger Society as a student member? Number of responses are shown. No respondents selected prefer not to say.

 Graph who has attended Challenger conference in the last 5 years



Figure 4. Have you attended a biennial Challenger Conference in the last 5 years? Number of responses are shown. No respondents selected I don’t know or prefer not to say.

Graph of SIG involvement

Figure 5. Are you a member of a Special Interest Group (SIG)? Please select all SIGs that you have interacted with or attended a meeting of. Number of responses are shown. No respondents selected Marine Science and Policy, Marine Science Data Management or Sea Level.

Figure 6. Have you attended a SIG meeting in the last 5 years? Number of responses are shown. No respondents selected prefer not to say or other.


Figure 7. Have you been a recipient of a Challenger grant, bursary, fellowship or medal? Please select all that apply. Number of responses are shown. No respondents selected Norman Heaps oral presentation, Cath Allen poster presentation, photograph competition, virtual conference award, Chris Daniels award, undergraduate dissertation award, prefer not to say, yes, maybe, or other.

Opened Ended Questions

Question: What are the main benefits you gain from being a member of the Challenger Society? (e.g. networking opportunities, funding, presenting experience). 3 respondents did not include any comments.

General themes (number of mentions): networking (29), conference (21), awareness of UK activities/ research (19), sense of community (12), Challenger communications (9), SIGs (4), ECR funding (2), job adverts (2), no benefits (2)

Question: Are there any changes you would like to see or feedback you would like to give regarding the Challenger awards (fellowships, Challenger medal, grants and bursaries)?

General themes (number of mentions): No (9), clarity around fellowships (5), other bursaries (4), wider advertising (4), more transparency (2), streamline awards (2)

Question: Do you feel the Challenger Society provides adequate support and opportunities for early career researchers? Please explain your answer in the text box below.

General themes (number of mentions): Does enough/ exceeds expectations (23), more support including training (9), wider advertising (5), small research/ salary fund (3)

Question: What role(s) do you feel the Challenger Society currently fulfils well in the national and international marine science landscape?

General themes (number of mentions): good national representation (i.e. meetings; 11), more international representation needed (9), voice of UK marine science (7), more national representation needed (6), represent community (5), SCOR membership (mixed feelings; 5)

Question: What should the level of ambition be for the Challenger Society going forward and what areas of activity would you like to see the Challenger Society placing more emphasis on? For example, engagement with policymakers, advocating for oceanographic issues with high-level stakeholders, representing the full UK marine science community in international initiatives (please specify).

General themes (number of mentions): voice of community (i.e. to policy makers; 22), interact with government/ industry (7), engage with international initiatives (7), education and outreach (4), correct level of ambition for fees (4), more opportunities/grants (4), higher profile in the UK (4), more media/ communications (3), equality, diversity, inclusion and accessibility (3), SCOR (2).