Leading by example: university leadership welcomes Ivory Tower

Bournemouth University’s Chair of the Board of Directors, Professor Richard Conder, has welcomed Inside the Ivory Tower: Narratives of Women of Colour Surviving and Thriving in British Academia  as an important tool in helping to advance critical understandings of raced and gendered inequality within and beyond the institution.

Professor Conder was presented with a personally inscripted copy of the book by Dr Deborah Gabriel, Founder of Black British Academics and a Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Media and Communication, who is lending her expertise on race equality in her capacity as Deputy Chair of the Race Equality Charter Self-Assessment Team.

Jim Andrews, Head of Equality and Chief Operating Officer at Bournemouth University, organised a catch-up with Professor Conder and Dr Gabriel On Thursday 3 May, to reflect on the institution’s journey as members of the Equality Challenge Unit’s Race Equality Charter.

To support the university in overcoming the challenges in recognising the subtle, complex and impactful ways that race, and in particular whiteness, shapes intersectional experiences of gender inequality, Dr Gabriel has developed a Critical Leadership Workshop, for members of the University Leadership and Executive Teams. Several copies of Ivory Tower ordered by the Chief Operating Officer were delivered to the Vice Chancellor’s Office to support the initiative.

Writing for the Times Higher recently, Dr Gabriel stated that preliminary findings of a quantitative study to evaluate how readers of Ivory Tower are engaging with the book’s content, suggest that the methodological approach adopted for the book, an autoethnographical text centred on the lived experience of women of colour, can have a transformative impact on senior academic and managerial staff, by deepening critical understandings of race and gender inequality and promoting agency.

Commenting on the university’s commitment to change, Dr Gabriel said:

“I congratulate Professor Conder, Jim Andrews and our Vice Chancellor Professor John Vinney, for their leadership and willingness to steer the university through what will at times be a challenging journey, but one that will ultimately reap long-term benefits for current and future staff and students at Bournemouth University. I know that other institutions are using Ivory Tower in a similar way: University of the Arts London and University of East London, for example, and hope others follow suit.”

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