Notes on: Arday,J. (2018 b). Understanding race and educational leadership in higher education: Exploring the Black and ethnic minority (BME) experience. Management in Education 32 (4) 192 – 200. DOI: 10.1177/0892020618791002

Dave Harris

[There is a reference to Alexander and Arday, 2015 in the first sentence — flouting the conventional requirements for referencing (192) This actually happens an awful lot throughout these articles, as it does when referencing Ardy and Mirza 2018]. Multiculturalism and diversity conflicts with racial inequality in HEIs especially for staff. There is a need to undergo transformational change especially in types of leadership. There is a significant underrepresentation of BME [usual justification for the term] of senior staff but now a subtle resistance. Currently there are only three BME vice chancellors and 20 UK-born BME deputy or pro-vice chancellors. There is a danger of 'tokenistic equality and diversity widening participation interventions' (192). Inequitable cultures endure, however, and BME staff remain at lower levels, partly because there are fewer targeted leadership and mentoring programs.

This article develops 'a collective biography of narratives from BME individuals in senior leadership positions' (193) to identify 'synergies between constructions of race and leadership and the interplay between these two vehicles [sic]' in HE. Universities must prioritise diversification and better support those wishing to become leaders.

Diversity and inclusion are common in policy and practice discourses, but lots of evidence confirms the underrepresentation of BME staff and 'the subtle silencing of BME staff in cases of discrimination', complacency and minimalism. This can leave residual effects including low self-esteem or charges of hypersensitivity or troublemaking [general reference to A and A again, 193].

Institutions continue to be unaccountable for lack of diversity. Unconscious biases been identified [quoting Jarboe 2016 and Rollock 2016 -- and a general reference to A and A]. Jarboe apparently claims that there are unconscious biases and preferences for all of us and that this is 'situated within a dominant White male leadership hierarchy', which means that BME academics remain on the periphery. Attempts to gain leadership occur 'against a backdrop of racism, discrimination, racist micro-aggressive cultures and inequitable levels of hyper- surveillance which often result in a questioning of professional capabilities' [Bhopal appears here and elsewhere]. The installation of Amos in 2015 might be a sign of a changing landscape, but Andrews 2016 says this is misleading. Mirza argues that there is still BME exclusion and omission and patterns of discrimination, with more of a focus on survival [references to Law 2017]. There are problems of access as well including gender and low self-esteem, and 'potentially early disadvantage with English as an additional language' (194). Others have pointed to '"modest professional ambitions"'. There seems to be little appetite to dismantle marginalising culture. There is a clear contradiction with the idea of universities as a site for 'multiculturalism and hyper- diversity'[general reference to A and A again 194].

There is an enduring centrality of racism. Meritocracy is a 'fallacy'. Culturally diverse curricula are not provided, nor is mentoring for ethnic minority staff [a general reference to Arday and Mirza this time]. This is not at all equal and egalitarian [the Equality Challenge Unit Statistical report, 2015 also does a lot of work]. Most professors were White despite diversity agendas. These 'are not penetrative and at best could be regarded as tokenistic' (195) [wonderful coming from him!]. They only profess a commitment to equal access but this is often contradicted, leading to a 'disconnect between action and words', partly because senior leaders are rarely held accountable. UK government approaches often end in rhetoric rather than 'specific targeted policy driven action', citing Andrews 2016 again. Destabilising inequality within universities is always difficult especially as there are few BME in senior management. This needs systematic change and a new organisational culture.

He developed a collective biography based on Davies and Gannon (2006). 'Two unstructured 60 minute focus group interviews and 390 minute semistructured individual interviews for all three participants' (195). A communal narrative emerged by utilising a focus group 'the focused on intense discussions on the particularity of lived experiences [citing Davies and Gannon]. This aims to arrive at an understanding of the social… Patterns of meaning making [Davies and Gannon advocate femnints collective biography based on poststructuralism, with the notion of writing replacing qualitative research aimed at gathering memories etc-- what on earth is it doing here?].

A convenience sample based on accessibility and proximity to the researcher (Cohen et al.). inherent researcher biases leading to attempts to neutralise it. Each of the BME leaders reflected on their experiences of negating racism and this 'proved to be a cathartic process'. There was a 'commonality in their experiences' — 'exclusion, marginalisation, discrimination and institutional racism' but they had overcome those. Davies and Gannon again on intense and focused gazes to make meaning. This is apparently a reciprocal approach because three BME senior leaders can relate to each other's personal experiences deriving commonalities which 'speak towards the organisational cultures'. This is also useful because it does not require extensive recruitment, especially because some of them 'may or may not be willing to talk candidly about their experiences of racism within the Academy for fear of subordination and/orracialiszation given the ways in which Whiteness works to silence and suppress discussions about racism' [references to Davies and Gannon and Rollock] (196).

He had four key areas for questions — 'have you ever experienced racism within higher education? Have you been supported as a BME academic to pursue leadership opportunities within academia? Why does there continue to be a dearth of BME senior leaders within higher education? How do we change the landscape of leadership within the Academy?'. Then he provides quotes from the unstructured focus group interviews and the individual semistructured interviews to illustrate the changing landscape. He also draws on theoretical literature and commentaries to understand how racial inequality continues to disadvantage BME academics and challenge why there is a dearth of BME academics. He wants to consider what interventions have been actively implemented.

These insights are 'counter narratives to the dominant discourses which situate racist occurrences as subjective hypersensitivity'. One senior lecturer seems to provide a quote here — he just accepts racism and learns how to navigate it, admitting he is worn down, but he wants to positively affect change. Another senior leader says that she has been made to feel inferior and isolated, and has spent 'the majority of [her] existence encountering racial micro-aggressions'. Racism is fluid and she has been marginalised and obstructed. This somehow links to A and A general reference and Andrews 2016].

[Much is made of these comments] — they reveal the internalise problems that BME leaders face in dominant White spaces, involving hyper- surveillance and racial micro-aggressions, trivialisations of racism, obstruction, the enduring nature of racism, inequity and discrimination that pervades institutional structures and the futility of antiracist approaches.

The female leader also says that she has had a difficult journey, no role models, and was perceived as not as capable or competent as their White counterparts. She felt they did not support her and in fact 'were doing everything in their power to undermine [her] leadership because essentially it disrupts their notion of leadership being the province of the White, male and middle-class' (197). The Asian male said the job is hard but compounded by 'racialised nuances… Resistance towards [his] leadership which undermines everything'. He was seen as inferior and was sidelined in meeting, silenced, subjected to 'symbolic violence' which puts other BME colleagues off pursuing leadership. The female again said that it was hard to discuss her position without discussing race and gender. The White middle-class men that she manages often reminded her 'through subtle racial micro-aggressions that I am not their equal'. They undermined her, went above her head to a line manager on a daily basis. She was exhausted and indeed plans to step down. Every day racism had ground her down.

The literature tends to agree with this [old favourites, Mirza,Alexander etc] [lots of Bhopal again]

The female black leader said it's difficult to change the picture because leadership is White and male dominated and that it is not a particularly attractive vocational career for BME academics so the opportunities need to be more attractive, ideally through targeted mentoring. The male Asian figure agrees that we need to think about leadership differently because BME academics are being put off, since they think they need the endorsement of senior White figures. The [same?] female black senior leader says that leadership needs to embrace the idea of diversification to produce an academy reflective of the society, and that people are put off because of the 'unnerving level of accountability' [denied earlier surely?] (198), and high levels of scrutiny placed on BME academics.

Continuous professional development needs to be applied to BMEs because leadership is currently potential deterrent. We need a cultural institutional shift and suitable infrastructure for support and mentorship. White senior leaders must do more to endorse ethnic minority leaders and provide opportunities for promotion and diversification.

Cultures must be challenged. Support mechanisms must be developed to pursue leadership strategies. There must be targeted mentoring and affirmative action. BME academics themselves must be 'involved in selection and recruitment processes' in order to 'disrupt cycles of unconscious bias that reinforce cloning and perpetuating unequal representation'[ Gronn and Lacey 2006]. There must be relevant CPD including 'compulsory equality and diversity training' — another general reference to A and A (199). Racism is unlikely to go away so there are no simple remedies but we need 'significant cultural and attitudinal shifts'.