Bullying and stereotyping blocking professorial path for black women, says report

A pervasive culture of bullying and stereotyping at UK universities is blocking the professorial paths for black female academics, a report has warned. The Independent reports.

The minority group have to work harder and employ mentally draining strategies at speed to try to prove themselves, according to research from the University and College Union (UCU).

In one case, a black female professor who had done a great deal of preparation for an academic meeting was still introduced by a senior white colleague as a “student representative”.  

There are only 25 black female professors in the UK – which make up just 0.1 per cent of all professors, compared to white men who represent nearly two-thirds of professors.

The report, which includes interviews of 20 of the 25, details the women’s experiences of explicit and passive bullying, as well as clumsy stereotyping.

Dr Nicola Rollock, who carried out the research for the UCU, told The Independent: “Bullying and stereotyping was commonplace in terms of their experiences.

“One woman spoke of putting her hand up for half an hour in a meeting but she was ignored by the white male chair of that meeting.”

Dr Rollock added: “That these black female academics have reached professorship despite their experiences of racism, bullying and lack of support reflects their talent and sheer determination to succeed. Ambition should not be thwarted by discrimination.”

The research comes just days after the government announced that universities will have to publish information on what they are doing to tackle ethnic disparity. They will also be held to account on how they improve outcomes for under-represented students, including those from ethnic minorities.

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