Inside the Ivory Tower


This research 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 authors draw on 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.


Ivory Tower was developed by Dr Deborah Gabriel for the Black Sister Network as part of a wider project focused on race and gender inequality within and beyond academia. Inside the Ivory Tower: Narratives of Women of Colour Surviving and Thriving in British Academia, is the key output for Phase 1 of this 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 Kwhali, 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


Book launch at University of the Arts 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 at Keele University, Feb 2018

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

Book launch at Leeds Beckett University on  Fri 29 June 2018

Anniversary Book launch & Special Black History Month Event at Bournemouth University Fri 5 Oct 2018

Equality, Social Justice and the Windrush Generation marked the 70th anniversary of Windrush and the UN International Decade for People of African Descent. It featured Co-Editor Dr Deborah Gabriel and contributors Dr Jenny Douglas, Dr Ima Jackson, Dr Josephine Kwhali, Dr Elizabeth Opara, Aisha Richards and UK Patron and renowned classical composer Dr Shirley Thompson, who was honoured for her contribution to classical music.

Over 500 people joined us at seven book launches in 2017/18. We are now working on Ivory Tower 2! Read about Ivory Tower 2


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view the articles on our press page


“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, Kreiger School of Arts & Sciences, John Hopkins University


“…the marginalised female voice…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.”

Emeritus Professor Kevin Hylton, Former 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

more reviews and feedback on page 2