Historically, millions of bright but unprivileged individuals around the world have been excluded from the scientific community and found that their talents were sacrificed to poor schooling, lack of opportunity and prejudice. Researchers examined how scientific exclusion plays out in eight countries around the world and found that even the richest country suffered from this problem which was systemic and entrenched in the deep socioeconomic structures.1 Empirical evidence suggests significant gender differences in the impact of academic careers in the scientific world, and females still remain a minority.2,3 This severely limits the number of people working on the advancement of science, leading to the lag in development of the world, and may further deprive those of their rights to work in academic areas. Inclusivity means the practices of providing equal access to opportunities and resources for people who might otherwise be marginalized in the academic world which can help create a sense of belonging and engagement.

By living the values of diversity and inclusion, acknowledging the inequalities that exist in academia, ZJU_China has created greater opportunity for any students in our university interested to fulfil their scientific dream, regardless of their gender, age, races and socioeconomic status. In this way, we hoped to better serve the synthetic biology community by attracting the individuals with possible talent to work with or in our team, promoting the collision of ideas about our project.

Within the team

This year ZJU_China recruited our team members in an open access way. We advertised our program throughout the university to ensure that those who were interested were well informed of the registration. The selection of team members were fair without bias, and all the candidates were evaluated by their presentation skills, innovative capability, molecular and cellular biology knowledge equally regardless of their gender, religion, and major. 9 out of 163 signed up for the wet lab and 4 out of 50 for the dry lab were selected and constituted our team ZJU_China 2021. Check Team for more information.

ZJU_China is a team composed of members with jointly acknowledged values, and different personal characteristics, living habits and educational background. During our winter project, which was a part of recruitment, we quickly realised that this can be an incomparable advantage for our team. Throughout the project we established an inclusive vibe where all team members can freely express their ideas, feel a sense of belonging in our team, and become intimate friends with each other. We did this to ensure that everyone in our team could have the opportunity to pitch out their ideas in the brainstorm and design of our project, which would in turn boost productivity for the whole team.

Outside the team

Throughout this year we put our focus on the students suffering from their defective education because of poverty and uneven distribution of education resources. It is a consensus that we are all born to be equal and should be treated equally in terms of vital issues regarding education and health. We took it as our responsibility to promote the even distribution of education resources and offer students more opportunities to discover the diversity of the synthetic biology world. See education for the detailed information.


Throughout this year, we executed the values of inclusivity and diversity to the real world implementation of our project. Acknowledging that inclusivity and diversity should be the core spirits in an equal scientific world, team ZJU_China has been and always will be on the way of seeking equality and equity during our project and real world human practices. These values increased the diversity and abundance of our project and provided us with a broadened horizon to the real world. We hoped the value of inclusivity could gradually be accepted by all scientific workers by which a comprehensive scientific atmosphere could be finally established.

Fig.1 iGEM ZJU_China 2021. Team!


With the effort of different organizations and communities all over the world, we realised that our miniature effort can be quite limited, thus we would prefer to promote the spread of inclusivity with our real world engagement. As a proverb goes “give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime”. With our effort, we hope more people engaged in academia can bear the spirit of inclusivity and embrace the scientific world with tolerance and acceptance.


[1] Science and inequality. Nature 537, 465 (2016).

[2] Huang, J., Gates, A. J., Sinatra, R., & Barabási, A. L. (2020). Historical comparison of gender inequality in scientific careers across countries and disciplines. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 117(9), 4609-4616.

[3] Penner, A. M. (2015). Gender inequality in science. Science, 347(6219), 234-235.

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