Professor Heidi Safia Mirza

Professor Heidi Safia Mirza

Visiting Professor

Department of Social Policy

Connect with me

Key Expertise
Race, Gender, Education, Black feminism, Decolonisation, Inequality

About me

“Sociology is your life and my life: We all have stories to tell...we must tell them ...our voices must be heard!” 


Academic background: Professor Mirza's pioneering research focuses on the intersectionality of gender, race, faith and culture using postcolonial and black feminist theoretical frameworks to explore equality and human rights issues for Muslim, Black and minority communities. She has widely researched educational inequalities, including the experiences of young Black and Asian women in school and processes of racialisation and decolonisation in higher education.  Her recent work explores Black feminist pedagogies and discourses of diversity and inclusion, racism and cultural and religious difference, Islamophobia and gendered violence.

Coming from Trinidad and schooled in Brixton Professor Mirza is a daughter of the Windrush generation, and one of the first female professors of colour in UK.  Heidi’s life-size portrait is featured in the Phenomenal Women exhibition which celebrates Britain’s 35 Black women professors. In recognition of her achievements Heidi was invited to deliver the 50th Anniversary Martin Luther King Lecture at St Paul’s Cathedral with Baroness Doreen Lawrence.  

Having served 40 years in academia, Heidi now holds the honorary position of Emeritus Professor in Equalities Studies in Education, UCL Institute of Education. She is also Professorial Research Fellow of Race, Faith and Culture at Goldsmith’s College, University of London, and now enjoys the position of Visiting Professor in Social Policy at LSE.

Research: Professor Mirza’s research includes British lead on the European Union (EU) project ‘Young Migrant Women in Secondary Education: Promoting integration and mutual understanding through dialogue and exchange’.  She was co-principle investigator on the ethnicity strand of ‘Understanding Society’, the ESRC funded UK Household Longitudinal Study, the largest study of its kind in the world.  She also directed the Rayne Foundation study on refugee education and ‘Respecting Difference’ which promotes the understanding of race, faith and culture for teacher educators in higher education.  As an international consultant Professor Mirza has advised the Andrew Mellon Foundation (AWMF) on difference, diversity and inclusion in South Africa, and worked with Deloittes on trafficking, human rights and migrant women in Caribbean. She is currently co-authoring the ‘Race and Ethnicity’ report for the IFS Deaton Inequality Review, which includes the impact of COVID-19 on Black and minority ethnic communities.

Teaching: Professor Mirza’s teaching includes her pioneering Master’s Course Race Equality Studies and her popular MA in Race, Gender and Social Justice.  She also supervises doctoral students in the cutting-edge field of race and cultural identity and has an excellent completion rate. Her PhDs student’s projects include studies on race, faith, gender, class and culture in educational settings; refugees and migration; multiculturalism and Islamophobia; gender and sexual violence; Muslim and Asian women in education.

Public appointments: Professor Mirza was appointed by the Minister of State for Education to the Government’s Schools Standards Task Force, where she shaped many initiatives to raise standards in education for Caribbean and minority ethnic pupils.  She also established the Runnymede Collection at the BCA (Black Cultural Archives), a race-relations archive documenting the late 20th Century civil rights struggle for Multicultural Britain. She was Commissioner on the GLA Mayor's Commission on African and Asian Heritage and appointed by the Lord Chancellor to the Advisory Council on National Records and Archives (TNA). She is an expert consultant to English Heritage advising on Blue Plaques and bringing in under-represented groups into the English national story.

Publications: Professor Mirza has published extensively on the intersectionality of race and gender identity, Black British feminisms, postcolonial theory and educational inequalities. She is author of several best-selling books including, Young Female and Black which was voted by BERA (British Educational Research Association) in the top 40 most influential educational studies in Britain. Her landmark edited collection Black British Feminisms is celebrating 25 years success.  Professor Mirza is also a leading voice in the global debate on decolonisation and recently co-edited the flagship book, ‘Dismantling Race in Higher Education: Racism, whiteness and decolonising the academy’.


  • Young Female and Black (Routledge 1992)
  • Black British Feminism: A Reader (Routledge 1997)
  • Tackling the Roots of Racism, Lessons for Success, with Reena Bhavnani and Veena Meetoo (Bristol, Policy Press, 2005)
  • Gender and Educational Desire: Why Black Women Succeed and Fail (Routledge 2009)
  • Black and Postcolonial Feminisms in New Times: Researching Educational Inequalities, co-edited with Cynthia Joseph (Routledge, 2010)
  • Respecting difference: Race, faith and culture for teacher educators, with Veena Meetoo (UCL 2012)
  • Dismantling Race in Higher Education: Racism, whiteness and decolonising the academy, co-edited with Jason Arday (Palgrave MacMillan 2019).


Selected articles

‘Empowering Muslim girls? Post-feminism, multiculturalism and the production of the ‘model’ Muslim female student in British schools’, British Journal of Sociology of Education, 2017 DOI10.1080/01425692.2017.1406336

‘The Branch on which I sit: Reflections on Black British Feminism,’ Feminist Review,108 , 2014 125-133       

'Harvesting our collective intelligence': Black British feminism in post-race times ‘ Women’s Studies International Forum 51, 1-9 2015

Decolonizing Higher Education: Black Feminism and the Intersectionality of Race and Gender’, Journal of Feminist scholarship, Issue 7/8, spring 2015       

‘A Second Skin’: Embodied intersectionality and transnational Muslim women in Britain,’ Women’s Studies International Forum, Vol 36., 5-16 2013

‘Plotting a history: Black and postcolonial feminism in ‘new times’’ Race, Ethnicity and Education  Vol 12, No1., pp1-10, 2009

‘There is nothing honourable about honour killings: gender, violence and the limits of multiculturalism “Women’s studies International Forum Vol 30 No3 pp 187-200, 2007. (Meetoo &Mirza)

She co-authored the seminal OfSTED school government inspection report Educational Inequality: Mapping Race, Class, and Gender   


Expertise Details

Race; Gender; Education; Black feminism; Intersectionality; Decolonisation; Inequality