Nov 24 2015

Tackling sexism and homophobia in rugby: achieving equity, diversity and inclusion through the values of sport

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In the wake of the ‘Tackling sexism and homophobia in rugby’ event on Tuesday 10 November, Tom Carmichael – LSE Student Union Men’s Rugby Club outreach officer – discusses the progress made with “improving the inclusivity of sport at LSE” and the need to focus on the “kinds of people we should and should not want to be”.

On Tuesday 10 November, the LSE Men’s Rugby Club hosted the event ‘Tackling sexism and homophobia in rugby’, jointly with the LSESU Athletics Union and the LSE Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Taskforce.

The purpose of the event was to bring together speakers from all levels
and corners of the game, to clarify what actions we need to take in order to move forward in the areas of equity and diversity. In particular, the discussion focused on the experience of coming out as openly gay in sport, how to achieve parity in recognition between the men’s and women’s games, and how shocking everyday instances of discrimination remain in the sporting world. The gravityNigel Owens of these issues was reflected in the contemplative moments of silence in the audience, yet the speakers also put forward their message in a way which we all felt comfortable listening to and talking about, with moments of humour as well. A key message of the event was that rugby has taken some significant advances in these areas, but that we should also not be complacent in pushing further to make rugby inclusive for all.

While the focus of the event was on the sport as a whole, the context of hosting it was closer to home. After being banned for distributing leaflets at Fresher’s Fair last year containing sexist and homophobic slurs, the men’s rugby club has been involved in a far-reaching reform of its culture. This process has involved a social media campaign aimed at addressing negative ‘lad culture’ and an effort to place community outreach at the centre of the club’s ethos. 033A5093It hasn’t been an easy process, but this demonstrates that the sporting culture at LSE is heading in the right direction and that progress is being made. The LSE Athletics Union is building upon its work from the previous year with the ‘AU for All‘ campaign, and the collaboration between sport and liberation at LSE is putting LSE at the forefront of progress in universities across the country.

Re-framing the debate

The debate surrounding the men’s rugby club and other incidents at universities has all too often revolved around the assumption of an inherent conflict between freedom of speech on campus on the one hand, and equality and diversity on the other. I do not believe that such a false dichotomy is either necessary or productive in addressing these issues; instead, it just provides us with a sense of discomfort and confusion when faced with two ideals worth striving for.

There is an alternative to this false dichotomy and this lesson has emerged from sport. The alternative is an honest and sincere reflection on our values and the culture of groups which we are a part of. 

At the event we heard about the values of rugby, and how players such as David Pocock (who has stood up against homophobia on and off the pitch) and teams like the New Zealand All Blacks demonstrate these through the actions of individual players and their team culture. The philosophy behind the culture of the New Zealand All Blacks is that players are selected not033A5245 just on their playing ability, but also their character. In practice, this means high standards are expected on and off the pitch in terms of sportsmanship and players are expected to sweep the sheds after training, even if they are world champions. This ethos celebrating virtues such as humility and honesty creates harmony and purpose within the team and leads to better training sessions and performances on the pitch. All Black centre Sonny Bill Williams was recently in the news for giving his world cup winner’s medal to a young fan, and while worthy of a great deal of praise, this is also an unsurprising reflection of what it means to play for the best team in the world.

In order to achieve such a culture in our sports teams, we don’t have to be world champions, and this message is central to the Good Lad Workshops which the LSESU Men’s Rugby Working Group hosted earlier in the year, 033A5205and the reformed men’s club plans to host again. At the centre of these workshops is the argument that when thinking about issues such as sexual consent, rather than placing the focus on the minimum standards of the law we should instead place our aims well beyond minimum expectations, shaping the culture of men’s sports teams into something more positive, and acting upon our values and respect for others in how we conduct ourselves.

Towards a new paradigm 

033A5154The reform of the men’s rugby club is certainly not complete, and there is a long road until we reach the aim of becoming a leader in this area. The challenge is to ensure the process continues, and that such a social ethos becomes a long-term part of the culture, with all members understanding its importance. This requires a sincere effort and leadership in order to achieve. It may not be easy, and the dynamics of group behaviour can often leave us unwilling to voice our own opinions and stand up for what we believe is right. If approached with courage, honesty and respect however, more progress can be made.

The event was a landmark moment for rugby at LSE. It was a celebration of the success of the LSE Women’s Rugby Club, and a chance for the LSE Men’s Rugby Club to help the wider sport lead the way in tackling prejudice. It brought forward insights and experiences which many of us will be lucky not to face, and emphasised the need for us to determine our identities and ensure they reflect the ethos of our

sport. We may make mistakes, but providing we are sincere in our efforts to listen to others and learn from them, then we will all be better people for it. Whilst this does not justify the leaflets in any way, we must not forget that what happened with the rugby club has provided us with this opportunity to go far in improving the inclusivity of sport at LSE, and has brought these issues out into the open to be discussed.

The event also allows us to reshape the discussion on equity and diversity. Conversations about the relationship between equity and diversity, and freedom of speech are important, but we should not
believe these values to be mutually exclusive. Too much of the033A5156 discussion has been focused on what people should and should not be allowed to say, rather than the kinds of people we should and should not want to be. It should not be about toeing the line of political correctness, but about wanting to have respect for the experiences of people who are different from us, and redirecting what we value towards this. We can be free to say what we like, but the real question is why we want to express ourselves in the ways we do. In his speech, Nigel Owens spoke both about the need for us to maintain a sense of humour and how important respect is in rugby. If we place these values at the centre of our identity then we will make our culture inclusive. There are role models in all sports who demonstrate exactly how such cultures can be created, and the people and actions which should inspire us. The key is for us to have the humility to be receptive to exactly what our actions demonstrate about who we are. The LSE Athletics Union this year has been extremely proactive and the current leadership should receive a tremendous amount of credit for how far they are working with liberation groups to put equality at the heart of sport. If we all act more like the New Zealand All Blacks and identify similar role models in all sports, then I believe that we will go much further in achieving the depth of positive change we all want to see.

Tom Carmichael is the LSESU Men’s Rugby Club outreach officer. The role of the outreach officer is to ensure that the club is an inclusive sporting environment, to set up collaborative projects and build relationships with groups inside and outside LSE, to address issues of prejudice and to promote diversity. This is part of a wider push for engagement by the LSE Athletics Union to reach those who may not previously have considered taking up sport at LSE.

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Nov 17 2015

Three approaches to awareness-raising: LSE Spectrum and intersex awareness

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Intersex Awareness Day takes place annually on 26 October. Hayley Reed – co-chair of Spectrum (the LSE LGBT+ staff network) – discusses how to ensure maximum impact from awareness-raising by keeping up the momentum; talking to people, rather than simply about them; and using powerful visual messages.

Spectrum is the LSE LGBT+ staff network, representing lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and other sexual and gender minority identities at LSE.

Intersex Awareness Day was on 26 October this year. It’s an annual event but it would be great if it didn’t have to be. The ultimate purpose is to achieve an open, accepting society for all – so what are the three best approaches to awareness-raising?

  1. Keep up the momentum

XXY posterAnnual awareness days are a great feature in your calendar and a hook for advertising, but don’t let the issues they represent drop by the wayside for the rest of the year. Important issues should not be forgotten.

On Thursday 19 November Spectrum is holding a screening of the acclaimed film XXY, the story of an intersex fifteen-year-old in Uruguay. The screening is free and we’ll provide some drinks and nibbles. You can book a place here.

  1. Think about who you’re speaking to

As an LGBT+ person, I am often excluded from LGBT+ conversations in the media: because they are aimed solely at non-LGBT+ people, they perpetuate the idea that LGBT+ is different and separate from mainstream society. They focus on other people’s perceptions of my difference; whether or not my difference is acceptable to them.

Talking about awareness from a clinical or outside perspective is divisive, regardless of intention.

While I can’t speak for intersex people, I can still talk to you. Anyone reading this should feel I’m speaking directly to them. Society is made up of a whole lot of people, who are all the same and all different.

  1. Powerful visual messages

The intersex flag, designed by Natalie Phox in 2009, is designed to very simply represent the range of sexes between male and female, and a combination of male and female traits.

Phox flag

An alternative flag containing a circle was designed in Australia in 2013. It represents completeness and the right of intersex people to be themselves.

Australia intersex flag

Real people, real stories

Intersex people: here are a couple of great resources to use and to share. For a few real life stories from other intersex people, watch this short Buzzfeed video: ‘What it’s like to be intersex’. If you’re in need of support then check out the Intersex Youth Advocacy Group, Intersex UK and the AIS-DSD Support Group.

Have you got any suggestions for intersex awareness and support that you’d like to share? Please list them in the comments below.

If you aren’t intersex, you can still use exactly the same resources to learn more about intersex; what it really means and what life is like for intersex people. Googling intersex, however, gets a pretty specific medical definition as the top result – and not the video or organisations I’ve listed above.

Google screenshot

Viewing intersex people though a medical lens is not the route to take.

People are not conditions. What are the best routes to awareness? Real people and real voices, sharing stories.

If you’re an LGBT+ staff member at LSE and you want to get involved, then get in touch with Spectrum:

Twitter: @LSESpectrum

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Aug 17 2015

Acknowledging their awkwardness…

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This article was originally posted on Blue Tulip Training

How do we manage our interactions and experiences with people who are different to us? In a multicultural society in which we are thriving for similar goals of success and development, is awkwardness natural? Sneha Khilay from Blue Tulip Training discusses her personal experiences about the anxieties associated with other peoples differences and the importance of acknowledging and managing these to learn more about each other and build mutual respect.

©Flickr user FutUndBeidl

©Flickr user FutUndBeidl

I used to experience a regular tirade of ‘did you have an arranged marriage?’, ‘I bet you are a good cook’, ‘do you ever wear a sari?’, ‘what does the red spot on Indian women’s forehead mean? etc. Whether these comments were asked out of genuine curiosity or in a provocative manner – to elicit a reaction from me, it left me feeling self-conscious and uncomfortable. My added concern was that the symbolic neon arrow highlighting my difference was flashing again and that I was defined only on the basis of being an Indian woman, my other beliefs and values had casually been put back into the shadow. The sting of these regular slights became quite a burden to carry.

I have noticed that lately these types of questions are not asked of me with the same level of intensity and frequency. What I had not quite taken into consideration is my own internal judgement when colleagues have voiced their feelings of awkwardness when dealing with my difference, that of being an Indian woman.

Over the last couple of years, I have developed a friendly professional relationship with a group of white male colleagues. We share laughter, banter and personal stories whilst maintaining our professional stance. This group of men have their own differences to contend with, around religion, sexual orientation and disability; in this instance not all overtly visible.

Recently a couple of men from this group candidly admitted that when they first met me, they really did not know how to behave towards me and felt awkward. They acknowledged that they had not had any professional involvement with an Indian woman, and had initially placed me in their stereotypical image of being submissive and traditional.

I pretended to be relaxed about their disclosure, but I felt uncomfortable and somehow the sting of those regular slights that had interspersed throughout my life suddenly came to the forefront. I easily got caught up in my own judgement of their lack of understanding and their previous lack of willingness to interact with people who come from different cultural (Asian) background.

It can be argued that perhaps my colleagues did not need to disclose their initial awkwardness, I however recognise that their admission was a disguised compliment and they felt comfortable, enough to voice their initial reservations. However my realisation was more about my reaction to their disclosure. Why was I dismissive and impatient when they brought up their stereotypical notions? On reflection, I became aware and appreciated that in spite of their misguided perceptions, they had always approached me with respect and professional affection. Also they had never highlighted my difference, inadvertently or otherwise and certainly did not put any pressure (or burden) on me, of needing to discuss/explain the complexity related to my race/gender. If they had, our conversations would not have been genuine and would have lacked nuance.  Our discussions instead tended to focus on what we had in common, our professional values and to continue to invest in the work that we were required to do.

Audience_7033It is common knowledge that instinctively we all interact with people who look, behave and dress like us. When we do encounter someone who does not fit our category of ‘sameness’ it is important to acknowledge that we would and do feel awkward. I realise to my chagrin that my colleagues’ awkwardness was their overt conscious effort, to make sure that they did not say the wrong thing or behave in a manner that might cause offence.

I learned through my colleagues’ affirming attitude and behaviour that I should not allow myself to be a prisoner of my past experiences or limit myself to valuing only those who shout from the rooftops of their knowledge of diversity and inclusion.  What these men have taught me was that whilst we all have our anxieties about other people’s differences, it’s how we manage them which is the key, to be able to look yourself in the mirror and know you’ve acted in good conscience.

Sneha Khilay

Sneha Khilay – Blue Tulip Training

Snéha Khilay is a diversity and leadership consultant/trainer. Snéha carries out consultancy and training on Diversity and Inclusion, Managing Diversity and the Law, Cultural Competency, Dignity at Work and Conflict Resolution. Snéha has published articles on diversity and leadership in Management Today, Start Your Business, Simply Business, Professional Manager, Change Board, People and People

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Aug 5 2015

Singapore’s Social Experiment Key To Economic Success

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This article was originally posted on Forbes

Singapore’s Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam stated of their current diversity policy for housing that “As a result of this policy Singapore has long enjoyed the benefits of an integrated society where citizens of all races live and work together. Citizens are also free to practice their religion and culture without fear of prejudice or persecution.” However are Singapore’s diversity policies too prescriptive? Ruchika Tulshyan discusses the effectiveness of Singapore’s diversity policies in this engaging article.

Singapore cityscape by Christopher Chan @Flikr

Singapore cityscape by Christopher Chan @Flikr

The wealthy nation’s Deputy Prime Minister said an intrusive policy to foster diversity drove Singapore’s economic growth

Singapore’s economic achievements are impressive. A nation smaller in size than Manhattan consistently ranks in the top five richest countries in the world. However, the international media rarely focuses on Singapore’s success as an ethnically diverse and inclusive society, particularly in comparison with most other developed nations.

No doubt, it is not perfectly equal, nor claims to be. I have previously written about facing racial prejudice when I was growing up in Singapore. But Singaporeans of all ethnicities have unequivocal access to education and job opportunities. The country operates as a meritocracy where talent and determination is prized above race and connections. As many Western nations tackle the challenge of leveling the playing field for their citizens of all racial and economic backgrounds, Singapore presents a fascinating case study.

Singapore’s Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam recently linked the republic’s economic success to its diverse society. This inclusive society was deliberately engineered by the government’s “intrusive” housing policies, he said in an interview at the 45th St. Gallen Symposium. This dialogue starts about eight minutes into the video and resurfaces throughout the presentation.


About 85% of Singaporeans today live in public housing estates and 90% of citizens are homeowners. The public housing estates, managed by the government, have an enforced ethnic quota. Maximum proportions are set for the residents from various ethnic groups in these blocks of apartments. This helps “prevent the formation of racial enclaves and promote ethnic integration,” according to the government’s website. Sales of a new or resale apartment are not approved to a buyer from a particular ethnic group if it would lead to that group’s limit being exceeded.

“When it was first done, I don’t think we knew how important it would be,” Shanmugaratnam, who is also the country’s Finance Minister, told the audience in St. Gallen. “Once people live together, they’re not just walking the same corridors every day, they’re not just taking the same elevators up and down, their kids go to the same schools…and they grow up together.” As a result of this policy Singapore has long enjoyed the benefits of an integrated society where citizens of all races live and work together, he said. Citizens are also free to practice their religion and culture without fear of prejudice or persecution.

The British presenter Stephen Sackur challenged him repeatedly on the “authoritarian” nature of this policy. In turn, Shanmugaratnam pointed to the challenges faced by liberal Western societies today. He cited examples from Baltimore, and the state of Muslim populations in the U.K. and France, stating that without a social strategy to harness diversity, segregation and inequalities often run rampant. “The lessons coming out of all of our societies show that neighborhoods matter…it matters tremendously in the daily influences that shape your life and the traps you fall into,” he said.

Would A Similar Experiment Work In America?

Singapore’s model is not applicable for most countries and has rightfully drawn criticism for being too prescriptive. Shanmugaratnam himself admitted that policies like these will continue to evolve as Singapore faces new challenges of free-flowing information, immigration and rising income inequality.

But maintaining status quo isn’t helping many liberal nations struggling to integrate diverse populations of all socioeconomic backgrounds either. Consider America, which is now the most unequal of all Western nations. The U.S. also lags in social mobility behind Canada and Western Europe. As tragedies like Ferguson are becoming more commonplace, it’s imperative to explore models where inclusion comes from the top-down, rather than left to natural forces.

Christine Lagarde and Tharman Shanmugaratnum

Christine Lagarde and Tharman Shanmugaratnum

International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde (L) and Singapore Minister of Finance and International Monetary and Financial Committee chairman Tharman Shanmugaratnam (R) attend the group photo of the day at the 2014 Spring Meeting of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank Group April 12, 2014, in Washington, DC, AFP Photo/Paul J. Richards (Photo credit should read PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)

History shows us that people do not naturally choose inclusiveness – whether at work or home. In fact, without a requirement to foster an inclusive society, the majority often willfully chooses to oppress minorities. Shanmugaratnam, who also serves as Chairman of the International Monetary and Financial Committee makes a strong case for the responsibility of the government in addressing inclusion through strategic policy.

An Inclusive Society Doesn’t Happen Naturally

Defending the Singaporean government’s social micro-management, Shanmugaratnam said: “If we believe in social inclusion, if we believe in opportunities for all, we have to accept it doesn’t happen automatically because of the invisible hand of the market or the invisible hand of society.” He went on to highlight how in many societies, “you’ve got policies that went in the other direction and they trap people…where they started. If you’re black, if you’re low-income, you end up where you started.”

The self-segregation by race we see all over America or prohibitions on individual expression such as France’s burqa ban, are not sustainable solutions for countries looking to foster thriving diverse societies. Singapore’s housing policy would hardly be palatable to Western voters, but it has nonetheless managed to create a nonviolent and inclusive society. Citizens that live harmoniously in multiethnic neighborhoods are often more indicative of inclusiveness than diverse populations that remain segregated along class and race lines. It’s akin to corporations with diverse employees but where influence is concentrated in the hands of few white men.

The rest of the interview is also worth a watch. Shanmugaratnam discusses welfare, the role of the government in shaping the economy and the dichotomy between liberty and political constraints.
Ruchika TulshyanRuchika Tulshyan is a financial reporter, with a specialised interest in covering women’s leadership. She has been published in Forbes, CNN, Time, Bloomberg and the Huffington Post, among others. Ruchika holds a Bachelor’s in political science and history from the London School of Economics and Master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University. Follow her on Twitter: @rtulshyan.

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Jul 28 2015

Racial Biases in Recruitment

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Many organisations are promoting diversity throughout their workforce to create a competitive edge in the market. However, there are questions as to how bias in the recruitment and selection process hinders an organisation’s efforts. Snéha Khilay discusses bias in the recruitment and selection process, and its effect on organisations who are trying to achieve a competitive edge with reference to some thought provoking cases. 

Being good is easy, what is difficult is being just.

Victor Hugo

Latest research conducted by McKinsey indicates that organisations in the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity are 35 percent more likely to have financial returns above their national industry medians*.

@ Flickr Alan Cleaver

@ Flickr Alan Cleaver

Other research has shown that teams with a wide spread of diversity outperform homogeneous teams.  Too many similarities within the team members can lead to teams being complacent resulting in poor decision making process, whereas allowing for multiple perspectives lead to innovation and more consideration being given to potential risks.

In spite of general acknowledgement of a sound business case for implementing diversity in organisations, concerns about the low percentage of black and minority ethnic colleagues at middle to senior management levels continue.  One of the roots of this gap could be on the recruitment processes. Are these processes robust in monitoring and evaluating whether the outcomes are reasonable and fair? Recent research conducted by Race for Opportunity found that only 29% of Black and Minority Ethnic candidates, applying through a recruitment agency, were successful in securing jobs compared to 54% of their white counterparts. A colleague from a recruitment agency mentioned that her agency is hesitant about putting forward CVs with unusual or ‘foreign’ names as these CVs are often rejected by their clients. Furthermore recruiting managers seem to be spend more time in evaluating positive information on white candidates’ CVs and dismiss relevant and positive information on CVs of non-white applicants.

Bob** Founder and Managing Director of an IT company (300 employees) recently indicated that he would only appoint someone who thinks, acts and talks like him. He added that during the interview process, he assesses whether the candidate has the potential to be a Director of his company. In essence Bob is actively seeking candidates whom he considers to be a ‘good fit’ to the organisation.

Using Bob as an archetypical panel member in an interview process, he would most likely align himself with those who are like him and thereby subconsciously reject candidates who he considers not to be a good fit. Malcolm Gladwell claims that within the first 7 seconds of meeting someone, we make eleven judgements about the person and subconsciously we gather data to justify and maintain these judgements.

©Flickr user FutUndBeidl

©Flickr user FutUndBeidl

Let’s take this further. We have two candidates for the same job, Mike who is white and male and Sukhdev who is male and Sikh, wearing a turban. During the interview, Bob, identifying more with Mike would inadvertently give Mike the ‘benefit of doubt’, if Mike stumbled or was hesitant in response to a question. Bob would put him at ease and show patience. By contrast, Bob might not be so tolerant/patient of Sukhdev’s hesitation. Bob’s conclusion would be Sukhdev is not confident or articulate and therefore will not fit into our organisation’.  Bob’s perceptions about the interviews would constitute his reality.  Bob might feel that he had conducted all interviews similarly, but not recognise that his decision of appointing Mike was subconsciously driven by his alliance to  and feeling comfortable with Mike. ‘It’s like going on a date, you just know when you are compatible’ Quote from a recruiting manager

Often there is the concept of social awkwardness, a process of trying to build rapport with Black and Minority Ethnic candidates. I call these the ‘Are you sure?’ moments all linked to perceptions of personal norms. In a recent interview, a candidate, again wearing a turban introduced himself as ‘Philip Singh’. He was asked, ‘are you sure that is your name’. Philip responded with a yes to which the interviewer asked whether he was christened with the name. Philip’s parents simply liked the name. In another interview, a black male candidate asked about support networks for LGBT staff. He was met with the response of ‘Are you sure you are gay, I don’t think I have met anyone who is Black and Gay’. In another situation, a black man on appointment was told by our archetypical Bob, ‘I have never had a black man in my team, are you sure you will teach me how to behave myself so that I don’t make mistakes on race issues? Although we can argue with a vehement ‘surely not in this day and age!’ the reality highlights a different truth. Incidentally in the latter two scenarios, both candidates with their wealth of knowledge, skills and experience turned down the job offers.

At the same time, there is the flip side, do the rapport building questions from the interview panel members highlight differences? In one situation during the social pleasantries exchange stage of an interview, a Muslim woman wearing a hijab was asked whether she would be fasting during Ramadan. She subsequently raised a formal complaint against the interview panel members, convinced that she was not offered a job because she was Muslim.

Fundamentally if organisations want to have a competitive business edge, considerable care needs to be given during the recruitment and selection process to ensure that relevant, valid and reliable information is taken into consideration.  There should be a process in place that provides justification or explanation when distinguishing potential candidates from those who are considered as not suitable. There needs to be some form of accountability on attitudes and behaviours. The quote from Victor Hugo (1802) sums it well “Being good is easy, what is difficult is being just.”

*While correlation does not equal causation (greater gender and ethnic diversity in corporate leadership doesn’t automatically translate into more profit), the correlation does indicate that when companies commit themselves to diverse leadership, they are more successful. Mackenzie Report

** Names have been changed

SnehaSnéha Khilay is a diversity and leadership consultant/trainer. Snéha carries out consultancy and training on Diversity and Inclusion, Managing Diversity and the Law, Cultural Competency, Dignity at Work and Conflict Resolution. Snéha has published articles on diversity and leadership in Management Today, Start Your Business, Simply Business, Professional Manager, Change Board, People and People Management. Visit Snéha’s website at

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Jul 20 2015

Women’s Library@LSE archive – women and the Miners’ Strike

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This article was originally posted on the LSE History blog

In celebration of Women’s History Month, Archivist Kate Higgins uses the Women’s Library@LSE archive to look back at women’s response to the Miners’ Strike 1984-85, on its 30th anniversary.

Thirty years ago this month the miners’ strike of 1984-85 – called nationally by Arthur Scargill of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) on 12 March 1984 following National Coal Board announcements of pit closures – ended and miners began to return to work. It had been the longest major period of industrial action in British history.

Miners' Strike rally, London 1984

While women in mining communities had not participated actively in earlier miners’ strikes, this strike was different because the proposed closures threatened the communities’ entire way of life –affecting whole families, villages and towns as well as individuals. Spurred by this and by early press reports that miners’ wives were not supporting their striking husbands, women formed local groups to organise community kitchens, fundraising events, demonstrations and other supportive activities. These community groups coalesced into a national body called Women Against Pit Closures (WAPC), founded in Barnsley by local women including a Women’s Studies lecturer at Northern College, Jean McCrindle.

The papers of Jean McCrindle and WAPC are now available on the Women’s Library@LSE online catalogue. These include national WAPC and Barnsley branch minutes, financial records, correspondence, conference papers and administrative records; ephemera; Jean McCrindle’s personal campaign-related records including diary entries; the WAPC newsletter ‘Coalfield Woman’; and objects such as photographs, postcards and badges.

These papers illuminate the story of female involvement in the miners’ strike, and in particular illustrate not only the strike itself but also the revolutionary effect it had on women’s lives and their role in local communities. Previously mining communities had a traditional structure with women expected to centre their lives around their homes and families, but their involvement in WAPC and related miners’ support groups enabled them to learn new skills, explore new fields and develop talents in a way not previously possible.

Further LSE study resources relating to women and the Miners’ Strike

External web resources

External archival resources

Contributed by Kate Higgins (Assistant Archivist, LSE)

March is Women’s History Month and Sunday 8 March is International Women’s History Day #IWD2015



LSE 120th anniversary



Find out more about LSE’s history and join in the 120th anniversary celebrations at

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Jul 7 2015

‘Brilliant rhetoric’ – Malcolm X at LSE, 11 February 1965

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This article was originally posted on the LSE History blog

On 11 February 1965 LSE’s Old Theatre was packed to listen to Malcolm X; on 21 February he was murdered while preparing to address a meeting of the Organisation for Afro-American Unity in New York.

The Beaver, 18 February 1965

Malcolm X was born Malcolm Little in Omaha, Nebraska. After a difficult and disrupted childhood Malcolm X joined the controversial black supremacist movement the Nation of Islam while he was in prison for larceny and breaking and entering. At the same time he began to use the name Malcolm X, explaining that the X represented the African family name he would never know.

Despite much searching in the LSE archives the only record of Malcolm X’s visit to come to light is a report in The Beaver published 18 February 1965. Malcolm X was invited to speak by LSE’s Africa Society although the background to the invitation is unknown. Tim Gopsill was the 20-year-old editor of The Beaver in 1965. In an interview Gopsill remembered meeting Malcolm X but not the content of the speech. He did recall that: ‘He was quite intimidating. It had something to do with his charisma. He had strength – just his presence.’

By the time Malcolm X visited LSE he had left the Nation of Islam and established a new religious movement, Muslim Mosque Inc, and a secular group, the Organisation for African-American Unity, to fight for the human rights of African Americans. A highly controversial figure, his visit to LSE has been the subject of great interest, coming so closely to his murder. According to The Beaver the speech received ‘prolonged applause’ and was well received, by many students. You can read The Beaver report on the LSE Digital Library.

The following day Malcom X visited Smethwick in Birmingham where the Conservative MP had won the seat in the previous year’s general election on a strong anti-immigration ticket. Prior to his LSE visit, in 1964 Malcolm X had taken part in a debate at the Oxford Union, losing the vote but getting a great deal of publicity. The theme of the speech was the relationship between the newly independent African states and the Black Moslem movement. You can read the surviving text of the speech.

Following Malcolm X’s death The Beaver followed up with an editorial on Malcolm X and his legacy reporting that: ‘’There is no doubt that Malcolm X was an orator and political leader of genius.” Though there would be many views on the nature and impact of his views and campaigns. The full editorial is available online.

If anyone reading this can remember the visit it would be great to hear your comments.

Contributed by Sue Donnelly (LSE Archivist)

Read the Beaver’s own commemoration here.

LSE 120th anniversaryFind out more about LSE’s history and join in the 120th anniversary celebrations at

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Jun 1 2015

Exciting events in June by LSE POWER for LSE staff

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Friday 5th June:  Professional Networking Skills –  Sue Tonks


This event will be run in two parts.  Part 1 will run from 12.30pm to 14.00pm (with lunch) and Part 2 from 14.00pm until 16.00pm.  PLEASE NOTE:  those attending Part 2 must have attended Part 1)

Networking event (part 1), including lunch (12.30pm-14.00pm)
This consists of a ‘working the room’ practical session on arrival, as the delegates come in and have lunch. This will be a standing session of about 20 minutes as the delegates are doing what is natural, standing and chatting. This is a fun and highly informative session on how groups work, group formations, joining groups, leaving groups, joining and leaving the single person, offloading the boring person!! We will then go into to more formal part of the session, which consists of: What is Networking, Building Relationships, Creating Immediate Rapport, Asking Ice Breaker and Small Talk questions. Answering the question “What do you Do?”

Networking event (part 2) (14.00pm-16.00pm) [NB: those attending the second session must have been to part 1]
The longer session will consist of: The Networking Structure, Asking Business Related Questions, Developing the Current supplier and User Questions, Spotting the Opportunity (Ah Ha Moment), Creating the Link To Contact them, Avoiding the Gollum Moment, Preparing the Follow Up Call.

How do I book:

Part 1:

Part 2:

 Wednesday 10th June:  Social Media Workshop – Amy Mollett and Sonja Grussendorf

This will be held from 12.30pm to 13.30pm, but no lunch will be provided.

We will explore the opportunities for using social media in professional networking and effective communication; learn how to use social media to its fullest extent when hunting for jobs; explore how to maximise conference experiences, and consider the pros and cons of creating a “personal brand”. The workshop format will be discursive and explorative. The aim is to provide participants with the skills to make intelligent choices about a variety of platforms now and in the future, as social media brands have ‘short shelf lives’. We recommend that participants bring some mobile device to the workshop (laptop, tablet, smartphone), though it is not entirely necessary and laptops and ipads can be made available for loan for the workshop if needed.

How do I book:

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Mar 20 2015

Women at the front – pioneering LSE teachers

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This article was originally posted on the LSE History blog.

LSE accepted women students from its earliest days. For Women’s History Month we take a look at the women who stood at the front of the classroom during the early years of the School.

Gertrude Tuckwell

Gertrude Tuckwell

The first woman to appear in the list of teachers in the LSE Calendar is Gertrude Tuckwell in the School’s second year. Gertrude Tuckwell (1861-1951) gave six lectures in the Lent term on factory legislation. Gertrude (1861-1951) initially trained as a teacher but through the influence of her aunt Emilia Francis, wife of the liberal politician Charles Dilke, from 1893 she had become deeply committed to women’s trade unionism and employment rights. In 1905 Tuckwell would become President of the Women’s Trade Union League and also sat on the executive committee of the International Association for Labour Legislation, founding the British section along with Sidney Webb.

 Ellen MacArthur

In 1897-1898 two women appeared as teachers who were both linked with Girton College, Cambridge. In Lent Term Miss E A MacArthur, Head Lecturer, Girton College, lectured on The Development of the Office of Justice of the Peace, with special reference to its Economic Functions. Ellen MacArthur took a first class honours in the Cambridge History Tripos in 1885 and taught history at Girton from 1886 becoming principal history teacher from 1896-1907. From 1907-1911 she was also Head of the History Department at Westfield College, standing in for another Girton College and LSE student, Caroline Skeel. MacArthur was an active supporter of women’s suffrage sitting on the executive committee of National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies in 1910.

Lilian Knowles (nee Tomn)

Lilian Knowles

Less well-known at the time was Lilian Tomn, then a research student at LSE, who gave three lectures on The Referendum. She had recently edited a translation of a book by Simon Deploige, The Referendum in Switzerland, about the use of the referendum in Swiss democracy. Lilian Tomn reappears in the Calendar as a Lecturer in Economic History in 1903. She married a fellow LSE student Charles Knowles and they had a son. At LSE this did not prevent her becoming the first female Professor of Economic History in the country in 1921. Lilian Knowles was an advocate of equal pay and employment rights and waged a long campaign with the LSE administration about her own pay and conditions. It is likely that Knowles and MacArthur were recommended to the LSE Director by the economic historian William Cunningham, an early supporter of Cambridge education for women and an intermittent occasional lecturer at LSE from 1895-1915.

Beatrice Hewart

In 1898-1899 only Ellen MacArthur is listed as a teacher but in 1899-1900 two new names appeared. Miss A Hewart gave three lectures on Friday evenings at 7pm from 20 October. The Regulation of Industry in the North of England covered the growth of the textile trade during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and the imposition and enforcement of legislation. Sadly little is known of Beatrice Hewart who had been an undergraduate at Aberystwyth University and in 1898 published The Wages of London Vestry Employees in the Economic Journal, but she is also listed as the recipient of a research studentship.

Beatrice Webb

Beatrice Webb, c1900

The second name was that of LSE founder Beatrice Webb, or as she was listed, Mrs Sidney Webb. For the next two years Thursdays at 5pm were Beatrice’s regular teaching slot. In 1898-1899 she taught on Problems of Trade Unionism and Factory Legislation and in 1899-1900 delivered a course on free competition in the labour market. Both courses were inspired by the Webbs’ research into the history of trade unionism and the text course books included their History of Trade Unionism andIndustrial Democracy copies of which were placed in the Student Lending Library for the special use of students on the course. Beatrice who had received little formal education and certainly no degree must have been happy to lecture and prove her expertise. After the lecture Beatrice and Sidney would go up to the top floor flat occupied by Charlotte and Bernard Shaw for dinner.

On October 30 1899 she wrote in her diary:

“I enjoy lecturing every Thursday: the preparation of my lecture takes the best part of two mornings either in actual preparation or in resting so that my brain may be clear. The weekly class brings us into close connection with the work of the School: I see some half dozen students every week and talk over their work with them.”

In time these women were joined by others including Mrs HAL (Lettice) Fisher in Social Science and Administration and the Fabian Mabel Atkinson, lecturing on public administration.

For many years women were only a small percentage of the teaching staff and often concentrated in particular departments including Economic History and Social Science and Administration. However LSE was progressive in allowing married women and mothers to continue to teach and undertake research.

There are more stories to be told about these pioneering women.

Contributed by Sue Donnelly (LSE Archivist) 

LSE 120th anniversary

Find out more about LSE’s history and join in the 120th anniversary celebrations at


Gertude Mary Tuckwell by Bassano Ltd from

Lilian Knowles from LSE archives

Beatrice Webb from LSE Library Flickr

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Mar 12 2015

The Audacity of Race: How colour-blind are our ‘seats of learning’?

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Monday 16 March, 12.30pm
Book a place here –

Following on from our discussion last term where we explored the lived experiences of Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) academic and professional services staff in Higher Education, the second part of our conversation series will focus on the discourses of identity related to the career trajectories of BME academics in the UK. We will also take a closer look at the impact of the lack of the ‘visible minority’ on the BME student experience. Our confirmed panel of speakers for this event includes:

  • Dr Kalwant Bhopal, Reader in Education at Southampton University and author of the Leadership Foundation report ‘The experience of BME academics in higher education: aspirations in the face of inequality.’
  • Dr Debbie Weekes-Bernard, Head of Research for the Runnymede Trust.  The Trust has recently produced the report ‘Aiming Higher: Race, Inequality and Diversity in the Academy’.

The session will be facilitated by Carolyn Solomon-Pryce, Equality and Diversity Manager and Dr Ohemaa Nkansa-Dwamena, Student Counsellor.

We would find it helpful if attendees considered the following reports and formulated questions in advance of the session: and

There will be a sandwich lunch provided prior to a prompt start at 12.30.

We look forward to seeing you there!

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