A Festschrift to Celebrate Marianne Coleman’s Research Career


Report by Maria Kaparou

There are always interesting thoughts to share after a BELMAS event since BELMAS knows the recipe for successful gatherings. The celebration launch of 'Gender and Leadership in Education: Achieving against the odds', written to celebrate the research career of Marianne Coleman and published by Peter Lang, was organised by the Gender and Leadership Research Interest Group (RIG).

Well-established academics, early career researchers, practitioners, family and friends arrived at the UCL Institute of Education - who graciously hosted the launch - on a sunny day, 20th June 2016. We were all warmly welcomed by Victoria Showunmi, one of the contributors to the book, and other event organisers.

It was fascinating to see more than forty people join the event to honour Marianne and support the book launch.

The launch started with cheery and touching speeches and presentations from book contributors:

  • Tony Bush (Foreword)
  • Kay Fuller: Headteacher Preparation
  • Jacky Lumby: Culture and Otherness in Gender Studies
  • Pontso Moorosi: Patriarchal Bargain for African Women in Leadership
  • Judith Harford: Gender Matters (Cunneen and Harford)

Contributors to the book Jill Sperandio and Mary Cunneen were also in attendance. Apologies were received from Izhar Oplatka, Joan Smith, Margaret Grogan and Helen Sobehart (all contributors to the book).

Tony Bush noted of the contributors that ‘this is a list of many of the world’s best writers on gender and leadership.’

The engaging talks from some of these world leading researchers and a new generation of thinkers, represented the variety of voices, experiences and positionality in their research settings. Also interesting was that the speakers shared their own stories about Marianne’s influence on their own work and career.

I believe all of us in the room had the same sense of admiration and respect for Marianne as well as for the impact of her work on people’s thinking, research and practice.

In Marianne’s speech, she reminded us of the impact of gender on what we do. She inspired us, in the quotation below, to continue researching gender and to follow in her footsteps. This is something to take it into the future:

‘There is – I actually used this phrase somewhere - a sort of bedrock of prejudice and stereotypes which underpin all our attitudes – actually women’s as well as men’s - that is not helpful. […] Gender is the most amazing and dynamic concept. But it’s when gender stereotypes impact on us in an unjust way that we have to do something; we have to address it. And I am so glad that in a small way I’ve been able to do things, write things that appear to have an impact. It’s fantastic! It’s wonderful!’

Other prestigious academics, such as Megan Crawford, Peter Earley and Paul Miller made valuable contributions from the floor. Marianne’s family members and friends also kindly added to the tribute event.

After the talks, discussions continued whilst enjoying the refreshments. We all had the chance to show how grateful we are for having met Marianne, a remarkable colleague and academic; also a mother, wife and friend. 

She has led the field in women and gender in educational leadership research within the British context and internationally.

Congratulations to the organisers for hosting this successful event! BELMAS certainly knows how to create and sustain a community of like-minded people. It is exciting to be a member.

Photos from the event are included below. 

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