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UEL host launch of new book which aims to empower women of colour in academia.

east london and thames river

UEL hosts event for 'Inside Ivory Tower' 

By Lee Pinkerton

The University of East London (UEL) hosted a well-attended launch for the new book ‘Inside the Ivory Tower’, a collection of essays that highlights raced and gendered inequalities across the higher education sector.
The event featured the University’s Head of the School of Health, Sport and Bioscience, Dr Marcia Wilson, who is a contributor to the book. UEL Acting Vice-Chancellor Professor Nora Colton opened the evening.

Dr Wilson said, “Contributing to this project has been a privilege and honour. It has enabled women of colour in academia to speak up and have their voices heard with regards to injustices in the academy. It is my hope that this is the start of a different, more positive experience for marginalised groups in higher education.”

Inside the Ivory Tower: Narratives of Women of Colour Surviving and Thriving in British Academia analyses the challenges faced by black female academics in higher education. The book was developed as an ongoing political mission for women of colour in academia by Dr Deborah Gabriel, founder of Black British Academics and Senior Lecturer in Media and Communication at Bournemouth University. 

Dr Gabriel is co-editor of the book, which is published by UCL Institute of Education, along with Shirley Anne Tate, Professor of Race and Education in the Carnegie School of Education at Leeds Beckett University. The other contributors to the book are: Prof Claudia Bernard; Dr Jenny Douglas; Dr Ima Jackson; Dr Josephine Kwhali; Prof Heidi Safia Mirza; Dr Elizabeth Opara; and Aisha Richards.

The book aims to use the experiences of its contributors to inform policy and practice around race and gender equality, as well as generate voice and visibility for the contributors’ lived experiences.

In each chapter, the writers share compelling narratives that draw on black feminist theory to analyse how racism manifests in day-to-day experiences within faculties and departments, from subtle micro-aggressions to overt racialised and gendered abuse. It touches on common themes such as invisibility, hypervisibility, exclusion and belonging, highlighting intersectional experiences.

Co-editor Dr Deborah Gabriel, “Our book, developed through the Black Sister Network at Black British Academics demonstrates what women of colour can achieve through solidarity and collective activism.”