City life | By Gemma Bradshaw

Increasing the number of Black women in the academic pipeline


City’s participation in the 100 Black Women Professors NOW Programme will help Black women in academia to progress their careers.


“One of the most inspiring, thought provoking and motivational spaces I’ve been privileged to be part of. I’m so excited to be taking part”.


These are the words of Dr Lolita Alfred, Lecturer in Mental Health Nursing, about her involvement at the launch event for the 100 Black Women Professors NOW Programme, which saw participants from Higher Education institutions come together to share their lived experiences as Black women academics.


Research from the Women’s Higher Education Network (WHEN) shows that of the 22,000 Professors in the UK, only 41 are Black women.

This year, City is supporting a cohort of six academics through the programme, aiming to increase the number of Black women in the academic pipeline.


Miranda Leach, Lecturer in Midwifery, is one the participants. She said:


“Being part of this programme shows me that City has a genuine and ongoing commitment to professional development, and that the University is open to embracing new and innovative approaches to support the development of women in higher education.”


A pioneering programme


WHEN’s programme is supporting Black women in academia to progress in their careers, through coaching, targeted development and mentoring. The programme takes a ‘whole institutional approach’ to addressing structural barriers to progression, by also delivering sessions on systemic change, White privilege and inclusive leadership to institutional leads at the University, including the President and HR Director.


City’s cohort of academics at the launch event. Pictured left – right: Dr Ohemaa Nkansa-Dwamena, Associate Professor in Counselling Psychology; Miranda Leach, Lecturer in Midwifery; Michelle Ellis, Senior Lecturer in Child Health; Dr Lolita Alfred, Lecturer in Mental Health Nursing; and Dr Jessica Jones Nielsen, Reader in the Department of Psychology.

The cohort has so far undertaken targeted sessions on career pathway planning and career coaching, with participants being given access to a coach, sponsor and mentor throughout their time on the programme.


Creating lasting change


The institutional leads are challenged to consider how everyone in the University’s community can benefit from City’s participation in the programme, to disseminate a sense of responsibility to other line managers, and to consider how Black women at City are celebrated and supported.


Dr Sabrina Germain, Reader in Healthcare Law and Policy, is also a participant on this year’s programme.

“The opportunity means a lot to me as a researcher on race equality and healthcare, and because of the message it sends out to the Higher Education sector. I salute City’s willingness to challenge itself as an institution and its commitment to race equality.”

– Sabrina Germain, Reader in Healthcare Law and Policy.