Moving Mountains: Visioning Intersectional Feminist Leadership

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Time to explore (feminist) leadership at GWL

Glasgow Women’s Library’s co-founder and Creative Development Manager, Adele Patrick, supported by the staff team and Board, undertook a Clore Leadership Fellowship in 2018/2019.

GWL had undergone seismic growth and change in the period from 2012 and, three years before our 30th anniversary milestone in 2021, Adele took up this opportunity to reflect and to gain and share knowledge ahead of the next phase of the Library’s life.

Adele’s Fellowship enabled progress on succession planning and GWL’s changemaking ambitions outlined in the GWL Strategic Plan. It offered Adele support to reflect on her role in GWL’s past (since its inception in 1991) take time out to make research visits and create propositions for GWL, and the wider cultural sector on (feminist) leadership.

Artworks by Randolpho Lamanier, 2018. Several colourful banners hang in an high-ceilinged room. The central banner, featuring stylised plants in green, pink and blue, reads 'Toma posse primeira Presidenta Negra do Brasil 2027' ('First Black President of Brazil takes office 2027')
Randolpho Lamanier, Profecias (Prophecies) 2018, Arte Democracia Utopia exhibition, Museo de Arte do Rio, Rio de Janiero, November 2019.

What did the Fellowship involve?

The Fellowships involved exposure to leadership approaches from influential figures in the cultural sector including Jude Kelly (founder of the WOW Festival), Nicholas Serota, (Chair of the Arts Council of England and former Director of the Tate 1988-2017), Hilary McGrady (Director-General, National Trust) Delia Barker (Programmes Director, The Roundhouse) and Tristram Hunt, (Director of the Victoria and Albert Museum) alongside productive connections and collaborations across the 2018/2019 cohort.

All Fellows were required to produce a Provocation Paper linked to their learning during Clore. Adele’s Paper, Feminist Leadership: how naming and claiming the F word can lead the cultural sector out of equalities ‘stuckness’ can be downloaded below.

Download: Feminist Leadership : how naming and claiming the F word can lead the cultural sector out of equalities ‘stuckness’, Adele Patrick. Provocation Paper, Clore Leadership Fellowship (2018/2019).

Adele took up a 3 month secondment at the Museum of London working alongside and interviewing over 30 members of staff including Director Sharon Ament, Head of Engagement, Sarah Wajid and Programme Director of the New Museum, Laura Wilkinson.

Adele was mentored during her Fellowship by Roly Keating, The Director of the British Library and made visits to Washington, New York, Los Angeles, Bologna, Venice and (supported by British Council) was able to undertake a research visit to Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo during the Fellowship period.

Women dancing in a circle on Praca Maua, in front of the Museo do Amanha, (Museum of Tomorrow), during Wow Festival, 17 November 2018
Women dancing in a circle on Praca Maua, in front of the Museo do Amanha, (Museum of Tomorrow), during Wow Festival, 17 November 2018

Post Fellowship Research: Moving Mountains: Questioning and visioning intersectional feminist leadership in cultural organisations

Following her Clore Fellowship, Adele was successful in securing funding for Post Fellowship Research from Clore and AHRC. Adele wanted to research: the ways that feminist work is sublimated and erased in the developing ‘industry’ of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion training in and for cultural and heritage organisations, the history of (contested theories around) leadership of feminist organisations in global contexts and how her own lived experiences of feminist collaborative and leadership activities at GWL and elsewhere were impacted on by Clore learning.

More information about Adele’s Post Fellowship research is available here.

A photograph of a handwritten page from Adele’s Clore Fellowship notebook with text that reads ‘What creates conditions for risk?’ Accompanied by a diagram that is highlighted, of three interlinked circles titled ‘Three pillars’. Within the three individual circles the text ‘leader behaviour, processes, trusting relationships’ is written
An excerpt from Adele’s first notebook on the Clore Leadership Fellowship which highlights a significant thought in the research
Photograph of underlined text which reads, ‘As I noted then, however she speaks, the one who speaks as a feminist is usually heard as causing the argument. Another dinner ruined. Institutions also have tables around which bodies gather. Some more than others are at home in these gatherings. The diversity practitioner can be heard as the obstacle to the conversational space before she even says anything: she too poses a problem because she keeps exposing a problem. Another meeting ruined.’
An underlined quote from Sara Ahmed, Living a Feminist Life, a text that was significant in Adele’s Clore research into Feminist Leadership.

Provocations, Dilemmas, Breakthroughs

A sample of the Provocations, Dilemmas, Breakthroughs, as well as Influential Texts, Images captured and developed through the Clore Fellowship and Post Fellowship Research period are shared here.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, a mural by Zoe Buckman and Natalie Frank. The mural includes quotes from famous men about women including: ‘Some girls they rape so easy' (Roger Rivard), 'I moved on her like a bitch... and when you are a star, they let you do it, grab ‘em by the pussy' (Donald Trump) and ‘If it’s a legitimate rape the female body has ways to try to shut the whole thing down’ (Todd Akin)
We hold these truths to be self-evident, a mural by Zoe Buckman and Natalie Frank on the façade of the Corcoran Museum of Art, Washington D.C., 24 March 2019


This bibliography maps Adele’s reading during and after the Clore Fellowship and relates to the key themes and research undertaken around (feminist) leadership. It also includes texts identified by the wider research team at GWL considered we consider may be of interest to others exploring this topic.

Feminist Leadership Directory

With support from a Glasgow Women’s Library based research team, Adele created a directory of cultural organisations who are developing and using innovative (feminist) leadership approaches. A sample of those Adele had connections with and/or who were influential in the research process can be found here.


Research in progress and learning from Clore was shared in a range of dissemination sessions during the Clore Fellowship and Post Fellowship period.

Further blocks and iterations of the research will be shared across a range of platforms and forums in the forthcoming weeks and months.

Collaborators, colleagues, supporters and contributors

Adele extends her sincere thanks to everyone who made space, shared insights, gave their time and helped her on the Clore Fellowship journey and in the Post Fellowship Research process.

Adele greatly appreciated funding support from: Clore Fellowship Leadership, Creative Scotland, British Council Scotland, British Council Brazil, British Council Kenya, AHRC.

Full list of thanks and acknowledgements

Clore Leadership logo (Clore Leadership in white sans serif capitals, right-aligned on a pink background)UK Research and Innovation: Arts and Humanities Research Council logo (the UKRI acronym is presented in a blue next to a stylised R in shades of yellow, with the text Arts and Humanities Research Council in blue)

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