Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

'Invisible' Gays in Top Roles? We'll Have to See about That

Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

'Invisible' Gays in Top Roles? We'll Have to See about That

Article excerpt

Lack of v-cs who have come out is 'an issue across the sector', says Stonewall. David Matthews writes.

It is "nigh on impossible" to find "visible gay role models" in senior university positions, according to a senior official at campaign group Stonewall.

Charlotte Wheeler-Quinnell, Stonewall's client account manager for workplace programmes, said the lack of role models was "an issue right across the sector".

"Compared with other sectors, where we do have openly gay chief executives ... compared with sport, consultancy, law firms, why is it within the universities ... we don't have that visibility?" she said.

Ms Wheeler-Quinnell said that with the exception of Dominic Shellard at De Montfort University it was "a bit peculiar" that such role models were not more prominent "given the number of (vice-chancellors)", and suggested there was "almost a perception that if they come out as being gay (this would) distract from their academic career".

"It's going to take someone (to) break the mould. The fact that there isn't anyone (fulfilling this role) at that top level (is a) catch-22," she said.

However, her comments were met with bafflement by one of Stonewall's founders.

Simon Fanshawe, now chair of council at the University of Sussex, said that he could think of two "well-known" gay vice-chancellors who did not hide their sexuality.

"What more should they be doing?" he asked.

He said that it was a "sign of the times" that they were not "gay role models", in Ms Wheeler-Quinnell's words.

"You don't have to be gay as a v-c to show leadership," he said. …

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