Seven Exeter University academics join 100 Black Women Professors NOW Programme for 2023

100 BWP NOW Launch

From left to right: Dr Safi Darden (Exeter), Dr Winifred Nyinoh (Exeter), Gail Reeves (Exeter), Melody Jombe (Exeter), Olabisi Obamakin (Exeter), Colleen Douglas-Temple (Exeter), Shraddha Chaudhary (Exeter) and Alice Chilver (CEO, WHEN).

Seven academics from the University of Exeter will take part in a 12-month accelerator and change programme for UK higher education institutions developed and delivered by the Women’s Higher Education Network (WHEN).

Out of more than 22,000 professors at UK universities, only 41 are Black women. The programme, which launched in 2022, aims to propel equity of opportunity for Black women academics, researchers and PhD students and to deliver a step change in progress for the sector by working with individuals throughout the academic pipeline as well as institutions, managers and leaders. University of Exeter academics will partake in the second cohort of the programme, which launched on 20th January 2023.

Exeter academics participating in the programme are from across all three of the university’s faculties and have expertise across a number of subjects.

The academics will take part in and benefit from mentorship, career coaching, action learning and peer group coaching, networking, master classes, campaign and profile-raising opportunities. Each academic is sponsored on the programme by a member of their respective Faculty Executive Board, who will be active advocates throughout their journey.   

Professor Lisa Roberts, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Exeter, said: “I am extremely proud of our academics taking part in the 100 Black Women Professors NOW programme this year. The programme is one of many initiatives helping us to develop and support a diverse and inclusive community of leaders, an important element of the “People” part of our University’s Strategy 2030. 

Black female representation and leadership is extremely important to us, and a diverse community of voices is essential if we are to fulfil the University’s vision to tackle some of the biggest challenges we are facing globally.”

Melody Jombe, Lecturer in Education and Scholarship at The University of Exeter said: “I am thrilled to be part of the 100BW Professors NOW 2023 Cohort. As a junior lecturer and a PhD candidate, I am looking forward to gain insights from mentors and coaches on career progression. As a young Black African woman, I believe this platform is a great opportunity that I can also use to inspire and motivate other women who want to excel in academia.”

Olabisi Obamakin, Postgraduate Teaching Associate at the University of Exeter said: “All through my HE journey, I have never been taught by a Black Female Professor. As a Nigerian/British student, it made me feel like ‘I didn’t belong’, and that there wasn’t ‘a place for me’. This programme affords me the opportunity to change this narrative, by helping me to advance my career, and helping to inspire the Black female students that I teach.

I hope to amplify my current PhD research, which aims to create a space for Afropean feminist perspectives within the field of Theology and beyond. I want to maximise this opportunity to engage with university leaders about the current challenges facing Black British scholars, secure funding for a Postdoctoral Research position (or a full-time lecturing post) and ultimately, establish myself as the first Black Female Vice Chancellor in the UK.”

Colleen Douglas-Temple, Academic Mentor & Internal Quality Assurer for Degree Apprenticeships at The University of Exeter Business School said: “Having been informed that in the UK there are 41 Black Women Professors in the whole of the UK out of a total of 22,000, this resonated with me, and I knew that I wanted to be part of the innovative and trail blazing 100 Black Women Professors NOW programme. Having successfully applied I am hoping that I will one of many Black women to break the glass ceiling and change the status quo.”

Professor Janice Kay and Imelda Rogers, co-chairs of Wellbeing, Inclusion and Culture Committee said: “The 100 Black Women Professors NOW programme is a valuable opportunity to provide our Black women academics with the opportunity to showcase their potential and for us to identify steps towards achieving a socially just future.

In addition to supporting Black academic women to navigate and change their careers, the programme challenges institutional assumptions and bias, recognising the need to address fundamental societal inequities, and acting to achieve systemic change for a fairer world, all of which are at the heart of our People plan and University strategy.”

The Exeter academics participating in the programme are Dr Iveren Winifred Nyinoh, Dr Suzanne Azer, Ms Colleen Douglas-Temple, Ms Melody Jombe, Miss Olabisi Obamakin, Dr Safi Darden and Dr Liliane Mukaremera.