Faculty of Social & Historical Sciences


Staff Spotlight: Meet the new SHS Vice Dean for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

29 August 2019

Anson Mackay (UCL Geography) shares his motivation for applying and his priorities for the new Vice Dean role in SHS.

Image of Anson Mackay

Why were you interested in becoming Vice Dean (Equality, Diversity and Inclusion)?

I’m very proud of UCL, and have worked here for over 25 years, and while many inroads have been made into equality of opportunity, aspects of diversity and inclusion lag behind, for both students and staff. Even at the departmental level, these are challenging to fix. I currently co-chair our EDI committee, which provides an important channel for issues raised by staff and students to be acted upon promptly. This had led us to forming, for example, an LGBTQ+ Network and a BME Network, which has begun to help develop a sense of belonging for these under-represented groups in the department. But these are Faculty-wide issues as well, and I’m keen to help develop these kinds of initiatives more widely.


What are your priorities for when you begin the role in September?

Across the Faculty, academics from ethnic minorities are very under-represented, especially at senior levels. This is problematic from a research point of view (we know that diverse teams are essential for excellent research), and a teaching and learning point of view (we know students learn better in diverse environments). Moreover, the Faculty has a significant attainment gap for its BME students which must be reduced, and I’d like to start work on how we can provide better opportunities for BME staff.

Even though academic staffing in the Faculty is well balanced in terms of gender, women in senior positions are significantly less well represented. Professional Services also have specific EDI issues that are different from academic staff, and one of my priorities will be to work closely with representatives from PS, e.g. co-chairing specific committees where relevant. A major goal of UCL is for all departments to be working towards an Athena Swan award, and I look forward to using my experience to helping other departments prepare their submissions.

Major barriers exist to work and study for disabled and neurodiverse people in the Faculty, and a priority will be to understand these more deeply, so that we can work towards their reduction.  


What are you looking forward to in the role?

I’m excited to work with the new network of Vice Deans for EDI that has been set up across UCL. I think that this provides a real possibility to effect change, both in terms of improving representation of minority staff, and making the university a more equitable place to work and study.

Image: Calvin Cheung