UCL News


Spotlight on... Dr Victoria Showunmi

19 January 2023

This week we meet Dr Victoria Showunmi, Associate Professor at the UCL Institute of Education (IOE). Here, she chats to us about promoting equality in education and the workplace, her latest projects... and her recent appearance on TV!

Dr Victoria Showunmi

What is your role and what does it involve?

I am an Associate Professor in the Education, Policy and Society department at the IOE, UCL’s Faculty of Education and Society.

My role involves research, teaching and institutional citizenship – at least that’s what’s on the tin! My research has increased understanding of two interdisciplinary subjects: identity and leadership in the workplace, and the experience of Black women and girls in education. Critical conversations to transform perspectives on gender and race are central to my teaching. Interaction and engagement informs everything I do, including my recent TV appearance on Channel 4's Judi Love: Black, Female and Invisible, as well as my social media

How long have you been at UCL and what was your previous role?

I’ve been at the IOE since 2008, and at UCL since the merger in 2014.

What working achievement or initiative are you most proud of?

I’m most proud of the tireless work I do to promote equality in education and the workplace, especially for women and girls. There’s still a lot to do. I’ve published two books this year, one on a new concept: ‘sophisticated racism’, and the other on gender and leadership.

Tell us about a project you are working on now which is top of your to-do list?

There are three projects at the top of my to-do list: Chairing Athena SWAN in the IOE, leading our application for the Silver Award, and leading on intersectionality for a European ‘Cost Action’ project – 'Gender Voices’ – that explores the experience of early career researchers. I am also working on establishing a research centre for Black women and girls.

What is your favourite album, film and novel?

  • Whitney Houston's I Wanna Dance With Somebody and Michael Jackson's Thriller;
  • My favourite film is Skin (2008);
  • and my favourite book – though not a novel  – Ain’t I a Woman? by Bell Hooks.

What is your favourite joke (pre-watershed)?

What do you call Santa when he stops moving? Santa Pause.

Who would be your dream dinner guests:

Michele and Barack Obama, the Williams sisters, Trevor Noah, Angela Davis, Angela Merkel, Diane Abbott and King Charles.

What advice would you give your younger self?

I would advise my younger self to banish self-doubt, enjoy success, and persevere and stop worrying about what others think.

What would it surprise people to know about you?

It would surprise people to know that I have two dogs and was raised by White Jewish parents in the English countryside.

What is your favourite place?

My favourite place in England is Somerset; internationally, there are so many fantastic places – perhaps Recife in Brazil.