Biases and power: Understanding of the experiences and perceptions of workplace EDI amongst digital leaders in higher education


  • Melissa Highton University of Edinburgh



Professional staff, higher education, Information technology, stereotypes, digital leadership, inclusion


The professional experiences and identities of staff working in IT roles in higher education is currently an under researched area leading to a gap in understanding of how these staff experience and contribute to diversity in their institutions. Digital leadership is an emerging area of leadership studies with increasing importance where academic and professional teams work together as allies in addressing structural inequalities embedded in systems of learning, teaching, promotion and support. This article draws upon data gathered through semi-structured interviews with digital leaders in universities in Scotland. Data were analysed using an interpretative feminist framework to surface themes of workplace diversity, equity and inclusion which challenge stereotypes around the professional roles and identities of people who work in digital. The article highlights the importance of insight into the context in which digital leaders are providing expertise and evidence for decision-making at all levels in universities. Recommendations for senior management, academic staff and human resources professionals are offered, as are areas for further research and policy making.

Author Biography

Melissa Highton, University of Edinburgh

Dr Melissa Highton is Assistant Principal for Online and Open Learning at the University of Edinburgh and Director of Learning, Teaching and Web Services responsible for the technology platforms and services which deliver learning, teaching and international reach. She has significant experience as a digital leader in higher education and understands the context for strategic decision making at senior levels in institutions.


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