BPS Presidents

Aim: To quantitatively assess White, Globally Northern, androcentrism across the leadership of the British Psychology Society, with a focus on its former presidents.

Most of the presidents were identifiably men (N = 67; 79%), the rest were identifiably women (N = 18; 21%). We were unable to determine ethnicity (N = 20) and nationality (N = 19) for some presidents. Of the presidents where we could reasonably identify these characteristics, all were White (N = 65; 100%). The majority were British (N =61; 92%). The remaining five (8%) presidents were identifiably men from the Global North (Francis Aveling, Canadian; Arthur Knight, Australian; Frederick Vickers Smith, Australian-British; Boris Semeonoff, Russian and Jack Tizard, New Zealand).  There were no presidents who were identifiably Globally Southern, BAME men or BAME women.

Method: The British Psychological Society (BPS) lists their current and former presidents’ names, years of offices and sometimes URL links to obituaries or work on their website (The British Psychological Society n.d.). The likely, identifiable, ethnicity, gender and nationality of these presidents was coded.

Results: At the time of the write up (2020), there had been 85 current or former presidents of BPS society.

Note: Our analysis of BPS presidents gave a context to this curriculum bias (reported elsewhere) revealing a broader pattern of White British androcentrism within the higher ranks of the discipline of British psychology more generally. As the representative body for psychology in the UK, the BPS holds power to accredit university courses so that graduates can gain eligibility for Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership.  This therefore means a lack of diversity within the organisation is likely to filter into the wider discipline of psychology’s teaching, research and practise.

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