Commissioned and curated by Dr Nicola Rollock, ‘Phenomenal Women: Portraits of UK Black Female Professors’ features portraits of 45 professors across a broad range of subjects including mental health, medicine, law and sociology. The exhibition is currently running until 8 November 2020 along the Southbank Centre’s public riverside promenade The Queen’s Walk.
Amongst the 45 women being celebrated are King's College London Professors Stephani Hatch and 'Funmi Olonisakin (Vice-President and Vice-Principal International).
Less than 1% of professors at UK universities are Black, and this exhibition of portraits (photographed by Bill Knight) aims to highlight the presence and excellence of all the women included and provide a platform for debate about what it takes to reach this highest level of academic scholarship.
Professor Stephani Hatch is a Professor of Sociology and Epidemiology at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN). She leads an interdisciplinary research programme and public engagement activities focused on urban mental health; inequalities in mental health and health services; discrimination; and young adult mental health. Professor Hatch has been co-leading initiatives promoting and changing policies to insure the embeddedness of Diversity & Inclusion at King’s since 2014. In recognition, she received the King’s Award for Diversity in the Workplace in 2016. She is currently the Co-Chair of the IoPPN Diversity & Inclusion Self-Assessment Team.
I feel incredibly honoured to be profiled alongside these courageous leaders. Having experienced visible and accessible Black female Professors in the US mentoring me and preparing me for the sometimes seemingly insurmountable challenges as a Black postgraduate student was invaluable. When I joined King’s as a postdoctoral researcher, the absence of Black role models among the professoriate signalled the difficulties many of us went on to face in higher education environments lacking racial diversity. Fortunately, King’s is committed to tackling racial inequality and fostering a diverse and inclusive culture and environment– Professor Stephani Hatch
The exhibition results from the 2019 research of Dr Nicola Rollock which showed the barriers faced by Black women as they worked to navigate their way through higher education and the strategies they used to help them reach professorship. Figures show that White academics are almost two and a half times more likely to be Professors than their Black counterparts. In 2019, of the 19,285 professors in UK universities, 12,795 are White males, 4,560 are White women. There are 90 Black men and 35 Black women. In her research, Dr Rollock concluded that ‘the under-representation of Black female Professors in higher education must be understood as a failure of the system to support them.’
Dr Rollock went on to commission photographer Bill Knight to take portraits of Black female scholars who had been professors at a UK higher education institution between 2016 and 2019.
‘Phenomenal Women: Portraits of UK Black Female Professors’ is currently running until 8 November 2020 at The Queen’s Walk, Southbank Centre, London