December 5, 2022

This Engineer Is the UK’s 41st Black Woman Professor Thanks To This Initiative

Design engineer Lisa-Dionne Morris is the UK’s 41st Black woman professor, an achievement she describes as a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.” 

After working in the industry for over a decade, Morris was able to kickstart her professorship after joining the 100 Black Women Professors NOW initiative, which aims to help Black academic women navigate and manage their careers. 

Morris’ promotion to Professor of Public & Industry Understanding of Capability Driven Design within the School of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Leeds marks the first professorship of the program.

Prof. Lisa-Dionne Morris teaching a class at the University of Leeds

The program, which launched in 2021, initially started when only 35 of 22,000 professors in the UK were Black women. Even though that number has increased, much work still needs to be done to achieve better equity of opportunity.  

“I started to understand the lived situation and experience of a female of the African diaspora in a UK higher education institution. I wasn’t the only one facing barriers in my career profession to the professorial level,” Morris said. “I knew I had to make time for this opportunity.” 

New figures show that only 1% of UK professors are Black, which means a lot more needs to be done to address the deep-rooted barriers Black and brown people face when trying to embark on their professorship journey. 

“There is a new, different, exciting classification of the academic joining us. They may come from a different pathway, but their experience, expertise, and professionalism are just as valuable in a university setting.” added Morris. 

Kumba Kpakima

Kumba Kpakima is a reporter at POCIT. A documentary about the knife crime epidemic in the UK got her a nomination for the UK's #30toWatch Young Journalists of the Year.