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Celebrating the 100 Black Women Professors NOW programme

10 Mar 2023

New cohort join participants of the national programme

Image from 100 Black Women Professors event

On Friday, 20 January, participants on the 100 Black Women Professors NOW (BWPN) programme from our University joined their peers from other institutions at a celebratory event in Leeds. The event marked the end of cohort one, a successful pilot of the programme, and launched the second year of the pioneering systemic change programme.

The career accelerator programme focuses on supporting Black women academics to navigate institutional and other barriers and implementing strategies to manage their careers successfully. It intentionally challenges assumptions and bias, recognising the need to address fundamental societal inequities and proactively working to achieve systemic change for a fairer world. It is needed as, out of 22,000 UK professors, only 41 are Black women.

Professor Dawn Edge, University Academic Lead for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (race, religion and belief), said: “The University of Manchester appointed the UK’s first Black professor, Nobel Laureate Sir Arthur Lewis, in 1948. I became the institution’s first Black woman professor in 2019, illustrating the effect of intersections of gender and ethnicity on progression into higher academic positions. I'm delighted that our University is participating in this programme, which includes people earlier in their career trajectories to address the ‘pipeline’ issue. Importantly, the programme involves line managers and senior leaders, demonstrating our commitment to changing systems versus ‘fixing’ individuals.”

Manchester was part of the pilot, with current and former colleagues using their expertise to shape and design the innovative scheme. This year, we have expanded our involvement to support four colleagues onto the early to mid-career academic and researcher strand and five PhD students in the relevant strands.

At the celebratory event, attendees heard about the impact of the pilot as a whole and for individuals. Charlene Gallery, Lecturer in Fashion Business and Technology, shared her experience, saying: “The programme helped me realise that I can control my own narrative and I understood how to build a network of strategic allies who have greatly supported me over the past 12 months. I also found a community outside of my institution of like-minded individuals who are helping to amplify the voices of the underrepresented.”

Organisations’ leaders also shared their personal commitments to action to address systemic barriers. This is key as an essential part of the programme is the engagement of senior leaders, sponsors and line managers. Our President is commenting on meeting cohort one participants in her weekly update in the autumn. The new programme commences with a career planning workshop for participants and a systemic change workshop for senior stakeholders and managers.

More information 

Photo credit: Matt Jeacock