Inside the Ivory Tower

…places the perspectives, experiences and career trajectories of women of colour in British academia at the centre of analysis. It positions academia as a space dominated by whiteness and patriarchy where women of colour must develop strategies for survival and success amid raced and gendered discrimination. The book uses Black feminist theory to examine how race and gender shapes the experiences of women of colour in British academia and how racism manifests in day to day experiences within faculties and departments, from subtle microagressions to overt racialised and gendered abuse. It touches on common themes such as invisibility, hypervisibility, exclusion and belonging, highlighting intersectional experiences.


‘Inside the Ivory Tower’ is an ongoing research project led by Dr Deborah Gabriel as the principal investigator. Inside the Ivory Tower: Narratives of Women of Colour Surviving and Thriving in British Academia, is the key output for Phase 1 of the project. The editors of this book are Dr Deborah Gabriel and Prof Shirley Anne Tate. The contributors to this book are: Prof Claudia Bernard, Dr Jenny Douglas, Dr Ima Jackson, Dr Josephine Khwali, Dr Heidi Safia Mirza, Dr Elizabeth Opara, Ms Aisha Richards and Dr Marcia Wilson.


Paperback: Available from Trentham Books   & Price £24.99

Ebook: Available from Ebooks Price £24.99     Kindle edition Price £19.99


VIP launch at Central Saint Martins College, Kings Cross London on 10 Nov 2017 

Book launch at  the Open University in Milton Keynes on 16 Dec 2017 

Book launch at University of East London on 26 January 2018


Book launch & anti-racist workshops at Keele University on Fri 23 February  Register Now on Eventbrite

Book launch at Goldsmiths University, London on  Fri 18 May 2018

Book launch at Leeds Beckett University in  Fri 29 June 2018

Please contact us if you are interested in arranging a seminar or launch at your institution – we can send you an information pack. We’re taking a break in July and August and are currently scheduling dates for Sep- Dec 2018.  Please note that this project was developed as a political mission to empower the contributors by generating voice and visibility for our lived experiences, as well as utilising those experiences to inform policy and practice around race and gender equality. Please bear this in mind when contacting us about seminars or events linked to this project. We expect invitations to be extended to all of the contributors, not just the editors and for the book to be acknowledged as the collective intellectual capital developed by and through Black Sister Network/Black British Academics. It is also useful for us to know how the proposed event will enhance your existing work around race and gender equality – an event by itself cannot effect change. Please also be aware that our travel expenses need to be covered and overnight accommodation may also be required!


Receive a 20% discount for orders direct through Trentham with discount code IT17

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We are at an important historical juncture where women’s voices are being listened to and acted upon, as rightly they should – when these voices speak to despicable acts of abuse. However, the voices being heard, validated and acknowledged are largely those of White women, whose voices are privileged. Women of colour have suffered raced and gendered discrimination and abuse for a very long time – yet our voices are routinely dismissed or ignored. Our book speaks for those whose experiences have long been marginalised within discourse, policy and practice around gender equality in higher education.Dr Deborah Gabriel


view the articles on our press page


” I would suggest that Inside the Ivory Tower meets all the requirements for the admission of expert evidence before a Tribunal, adjudicating on a case of race and/or gender discrimination, and/or before a body, such as the Law Commission, dedicated to reform of the law.

What the expertise of the authors would tell such a Tribunal or law reform body is that the legal concept of victimisation is an inadequate tool with which to protect employees who seek to challenge the forms of racial and gender harm prevalent within the contemporary university space.” Read the full review by Patricia Tuitt, Legal Academic 



photo gallery       video gallery


“This book expertly and elegantly weaves together the analytical, the affective and the political in a forceful engagement with race and racism in the academy. The strength of the book is gathered through its intersectionality and, especially, its focus on women’s experience. As such, the book is a must-read for all scholars and students interested in and affected by the British academy’s racialized environment.”

Professor Robbie Shilliam, School of Politics & International Relations, Queen Mary University of London


“This pioneering collection draws on critical race studies to centre the marginalised female voice that is in constant conflict with an education system that at one level understands gender disparities while at the same time reducing the protests of women to privileged identities easily identifiable in the eyes of the most influential stakeholders, White, middle class, straight men. The authors in this collection should be applauded for their critical insight and transgressive methodologies…The desire for intellectual and political syntheses should be consistently welcomed in the academy and it is in this spirit that all should welcome as an essential text the important stories of Black women academics and their lived realities in the Ivory Tower.”

Professor Kevin Hylton, Head of the Diversity, Equality & Inclusion Research Centre, Leeds Beckett University

“The testimonies of women of colour in the academy have tended to remain in the shadows, whitewashed by the structures of the Ivory Tower, dismissed as anecdotal evidence, rather than acknowledged as data indicating individual and structural forms of exclusion. This timely book starkly captures what the recent metrics of under-representation of women of colour actually means in academia.  It amplifies the nuances of experience at the same time as encouraging agency in the face of tenaciously resistant-to-change systems of privileged activity. It is essential reading for anyone genuinely interested in improving the conditions of all women in contemporary higher education.”

Professor Vicky Gunn, Glasgow School of Art


“I am so pleased to know that you have arrived at this important milestone. My congratulations to you all! Deborah Husbands

“I am so proud of you! This is the beginning of a huge new movement in Black Academia.” Raona Williams

“Wow! What a powerful volume (and a great title – with a fine cover design). A white male academic, I found myself cringing at many of the tales related in the book. I do hope your valuable work, with that of your contributors, helps matters move in the right direction. Congratulations on bringing the project to a published fruition.” Professor Michael Reiss

“Well done and congratulations. I cannot wait to read this book.” Karen Carberry





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