Transforming the Ivory Tower

Models for Gender Equality and Social Justice


This new edited volume is centred on transformation in teaching, research, professional and community practice aimed at addressing race and gender disparities with a focus on tackling whiteness as a recurrent theme in Inside the Ivory Tower (IT1). This research is unique in providing case studies that highlight self-defined and negotiated pathways for race and gender equality developed by Black women and women of colour as change makers. It documents how the contributors navigate challenging spaces to create meaningful roles that contribute to social justice.
This volume draws on critical race theory, Black Feminism and participatory witnessing – an alternative research approach where women bear testimony, facilitating self-representation and co-theorising with the author. It brings new intersectional voices to the Ivory Tower project from the USA, Canada and Australia and from LGBTQ perspectives, whilst maintaining continuity in highlighting the transformative work of some of the UK contributors to IT1.
This research is significant in highlighting the often-unacknowledged contributions to the knowledge economy and wider society to advance race and gender equality and the narratives privilege the lived experience, intellectual, social and cultural capital of women of colour.
‘This ground-breaking collection illuminates Black women’s perspectives on how they navigate the intersections of whiteness and masculinities in challenging and hostile university environments and transform the ‘Ivory Tower’  imagining teaching, research and community engagement in new ways. It offers powerful and internationally diverse autoethnographic and theoretical insights into how it is possible collaboratively to produce meaningful change in the direction of social justice. In a period marked by burgeoning recognition of how universities perpetuate social inequalities, it constitutes an invaluable resource.’
Ann Phoenix, Professor of Psychosocial Studies, Thomas Coram Research Unit, UCL Institute of Education


‘Drawing on the lived experiences of Black women at the forefront of transforming academic practice, Transforming the Ivory Tower suggests that decolonisation and privilege are central in the pursuit for social justice in higher education and beyond. Deborah Gabriel’s important collection exposes the deeply entrenched inequalities in academia, whilst also serving as a critical source of inspiration and solidarity.’
Sarita Malik, Professor of Media, Culture and Communications at Brunel University 

“Transforming the Ivory Tower is  an essential and accessible read for scholars, activists and anyone who operates at a grassroots level, who seeks to effect critical change in their area of expertise.”
William Henry, Professor of Criminology & Sociology, University of West London




“In keeping with the revolutionary Black Feminist tradition of embodied grassroots theorising pioneered by bell hooks and Audrey Lorde, the contributors share their own experiences to build a collective feminist toolkit for survival inside the racist-sexist academy.” (read the rest at Media Diversity Institute)
“Woven through this collection are powerful tales of action in University settings to challenge and disrupt the comfortable world of the maintenance and preservation of a potent regime of cultural power…Yet through it all I was reminded that I’m not the primary audience – a late middle aged white bloke with the word ‘professor’ in a title (even if is an honorary title, and associate, not full). This is primarily aimed at members of the academic community whom that community excludes from power and full membership, whose work grounded in their worlds is not recognised as of standing in that academic world, and whose attempts to challenge and disrupt academia exacerbates their marginalisation…Highly recommended. (read the rest on Goodreads)
“The women’s stories of courage and backlash in their struggle for equality reverberate these issues that many women of color, face not only in academia but in other sectors as well as around the globe. Their stories show us the importance of collaboration, engaging in strategies, and the continuous decolonizing of our minds.” (read the rest on
“Transforming the Ivory Tower provides a timely contribution to teaching, research, community and practice within Higher Education. The book presents the voices from across the academic landscape and continues to celebrate our sisters from around the world past and present.” (read on
“In the three year period, since they first spoke truth to power about the institutional racism and systemic inequalities which abound in the corridors and campuses of academic institutions across the UK, IT2 showcases their amazing efforts and successes, but also the work still to be done, if meaningful and lasting change is to be achieved.” (by competition winner Sheila Freeman)
“As universities have rushed to share statements of solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, Transforming the Ivory Tower provides direction towards some of the issues that need to be addressed, and importantly, the transformational work being done within and beyond academia by Black women.” (read the rest by Jessica Oddy)
View Table of Contents HERE
Read Excerpts From the Book HERE
Editor: Dr Deborah Gabriel
Contributors (Writers): 
Dr Deborah N Brewis
Dr Sadhvi Dar
Dr Angela Martinez Dy
Dr Deborah Gabriel
Prof William Lez Henry (foreword)
Dr Ima Jackson
Dr Josephine Kwhali
Dr Helena Liu
Dr Elizabeth Opara
Dr Udeni Salmon
Contributors (Featured): 
Virginia Cumberbatch
Aisha Richards
Prof. Shirley Anne Tate
Publisher: UCL Press
Publication Date: 22 June 2020
978-1-85856-677-1 (paperback)
978-1-85856-913-0 (PDF eBook)
978-1-85856-914-7 (ePub eBook)
978-1-85856-915-4 (Kindle eBook
Competition Winners
Congratulations to Sheila Freeman, Saskia McKoy and Shardia Briscoe-Palmer who will each receive a signed copy of our book and the opportunity to participate at our future launch event.
What action (s) have you taken in the past to resist, challenge or disrupt race and gender inequality?
“One of the most powerful actions I have taken recently was to say no to being part of a departmental level project after realising my participation was merely tokenism.”
How will you use the knowledge from the chapter to inform your future contribution to the mission of Black Sister Network?
“As a regular engager in critical race studies activities and events, I will continue to be involved in discourse and activism and share stories of how we, as Black women, can unite to fight oppressive practices.”
How will you use the knowledge from the chapter to inform your future contribution to the mission of Black Sister Network?
“I will use this knowledge to inform myself and others on how to combat intersectional injustice and to empower them within and beyond STEM.”