UofG recreates 150-year-old professors' photo for International Women's Day

Published: 6 March 2020

Some of the University of Glasgow’s senior women leaders assembled to give their own historic take on a 150-year-old, all-male professors’ photo ahead of celebrations for International Women’s Day.

Lion & Unicorn merged 1870 and 2020 photo for International Women's Day 2020

Some of the University of Glasgow’s senior women leaders assembled to give their own historic take on a 150-year-old, all-male professors’ photo ahead of celebrations for International Women’s Day.

In 1870, the University moved from the High Street to its current location in the west end of Glasgow. Ahead of the move, a picture of 26 male professors was created using the University’s iconic Lion and Unicorn staircase as a backdrop.

Given that 2020 is the 150th anniversary of the move, it felt the right moment to restage the Lion and Unicorn photo to offer a new snapshot (as the first one did) in the University’s long history.

This new digital version, which was released ahead of International Women’s Day on Sunday 8 March, features a cross-section of the more than 200 women professors and senior professional services staff.

The senior women leaders hope the 2020 version will help to act as a catalyst for focused reflection, discussion, planning and continued action on the issue of gender equality.

Senior women leaders at the University of Glasgow recreated the Lion & Unicorn photo for International Women's Day 2020

Professor Jill Morrison, Clerk of Senate and Vice-Principal, who is the University’s Gender Equality Champion, said: “Over the 150 years we have been at our current campus in Glasgow’s west end there have been huge changes in the size and make-up of our staff and student body. To mark this important 150th anniversary, it was felt it was right to offer a new moment in time in the University’s 569-year history.

“On the occasion of the first image being created, there were no women leaders, academics or students at the University. We felt it was important to reflect how far we, as an institution, have come, while also acknowledging that we still have a way to go on our journey to gender equality.

“I hope that this photo will inform discussions and reflection on gender equality both on International Women’s Day and throughout the year.”

Nearly 60 of the more than 200 senior woman joined Professor Morrison and Professor Dee Heddon in the 21st century digital recreation.

 A group of senior women from UofG have recreated a 150-year-old all-male professors’ photo ahead of celebrations for #IWD2020

Professor Heddon, James Arnott Chair in Drama based at the University’s College of Arts, who along with Professor Morrison led on the photo recreation idea, said: “At the end of last year, the University repainted the Lion & Unicorn staircase. To mark that occasion, the black and white photo taken on the staircase in 1870 was published on Twitter.

“Many of my female colleagues remarked that it would be good to create a new photo for the 21st century. What better opportunity than the 150-year anniversary of the move to Gilmorehill and International Women's Day 2020?

“Today, we celebrate our female colleagues' achievements and acknowledge where we are now and where we still need to get to in terms of equality.”

Today at the University of Glasgow, 31.3% senior leaders – professors and senior professional services leads – are woman. Of the nearly 4,855 women employed at the University, 384 are BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic).

Half of the 14 people who sit on the University’s Senior Management are women; nearly 60% of more than 30,000 students at the University are female.
In 1870, the University’s records show that all the academics were men including its senior leaders, made up of 26 professors. All the University’s 1279 students in 1870 were men - it was another 24 years before the first four women graduated.

In 1908 the first women teaching staff members – Janet Spens and Agnes Picken – were appointed. In 1919, Theodora Keith became the University's first woman lecturer. In 1973, Delphine Parrott became the first woman to hold a titular Chair at the University and in 1978, Rona Mackie was the first woman to be appointed to an established Chair when she became Professor of Dermatology.

Professor Andrea Nolan became the University's first woman Dean in 1999 when she was appointed Dean of Veterinary Medicine. She was appointed Vice Principal in 2004 and became Deputy Vice-Chancellor in 2009.

The Lion and the Unicorn Staircase

The Lion and Unicorn Staircase was created in 1690 by stonemason William Riddel and was part of the original University of Glasgow campus located in the city’s High Street.

When the University relocated to its present site here at Gilmorehill in 1870, this staircase was brought over stone by stone, by horse and cart, to be rebuilt by hand and made part of the new building.

The lion and the unicorn are symbols of England and Scotland: the lion is the national animal for England, and the unicorn is the national animal for Scotland, symbolising purity and strength.

Lion and Unicorn 19th century image

“Memorials of the Old College of Glasgow: photographs by Thomas Annan” was published 1871. It contained 26 photographic portraits of members of the Senate of the University of Glasgow in addition to interior and exterior views of the Old College buildings and drawings and images of the then new Gilmorehill campus.  The volume was produced as a memorial record of the structure and Senate at the time of the university's removal to new buildings and before the old buildings, situated in Blackfriars, High Street, underwent any change. The image of the professors on the staircase is from University of Glasgow Old and New and is an updated 1891 version of Memorials of the Old College of Glasgow. The Exodus from the Old College or Lion and Unicorn image was an early version of photoshop. The image was created through the photogravure process, which is a printing process where a photographic negative is transferred to a metal plate which is then etched and printed. 

The original 1870 Lion & Unicorn image used as part of International Women's Day 2020



First published: 6 March 2020