Sussex launches Commons exhibition and urges discussion on female academics
The University of Sussex has called for a major discussion throughout the HE sector on the role of women in academia after launching a new exhibition at the House of Commons.
The exhibition, which celebrates the work of 12 of the University’s female scholars, has been unveiled to highlight the need for more women academics to be attracted and promoted to the top posts in higher education.
With women making up just a quarter of the UK's professors, despite half of all lecturers being female, the University says more should be done to boost women’s chances of filling academia’s most senior positions.
Entitled 'Twelve Women in Academia', the exhibition was launched in the House of Commons on 16 January, and includes a dozen of its high flying female scholars, including Bugewa Apampa, one of only 18 black female professors in the UK. After the exhibition finishes in Parliament it will be returned to the University library as a permanent display.
The University's Deputy Pro-Vice Chancellor (Equalities and Diversity), Professor Claire Annesley, said: "I believe there should be a real universities-wide debate about how women are acknowledged and rewarded for their achievements, and how we smash the glass ceiling on promotion to reader and professorial roles.
"Our 'Twelve Women in Academia' exhibition really shows how some of our female academics are leading ground-breaking research in the most competitive areas, including law, pharmacy, anthropology, history and science.”
The exhibition shows the 12 scholars holding an object that either represents their work or has some personal significance in their career.
Fine art photographer and former University of Sussex student Miss Aniela, whose work has featured in Vogue and other high quality fashion magazines, captured the academics in the style of the still and sombre paintings of 17th-century Dutch artist Rembrandt.
These portraits show the rich variety of areas in which the academics are contributing globally, as well as revealing their personal motivations.
Over the past week, the exhibition has attracted attention from a number of politicians. It has been visited by all three of the University's local MPs, as well as many other MPs and Peers from both Houses of Parliament.
Brighton Pavilion MP Caroline Lucas, who helped arrange the House of Commons installation, said: "It is a privilege to be able to support the great work that the University of Sussex is undertaking in boosting the recognition and representation of women in academia.
“Women are consistently under-represented in both Parliament and academia, and I hope that this exhibition will serve as a reminder to my colleagues in Westminster that we must do more to encourage better representation of women in all walks of life.”
The University of Sussex recently received Silver and Bronze awards from gender equality body Athena SWAN in recognition of its work to support the careers of female scientists within higher education and research.
As well as the School of Life Sciences receiving the University's first ever Athena SWAN Silver award, it means that all of the STEMM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Medicine and Mathematics) schools at Sussex now have at least a bronze award.
Below are a selection of comments from visitors to the exhibition.