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Professor Dame Teresa Rees

27 September 2023

Image of a woman in graduation robes

Tributes have been paid to one of the UK’s leading social scientists and former University Pro Vice-Chancellor.

Professor Teresa Rees, who died last week, was internationally-recognised for her ground-breaking research on gender inequalities in education, training, labour market policies and in science policy.

Professor Rees made a lasting contribution to the University, acting as the University’s Pro Vice-Chancellor for Staff and Students (2004-7), then Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research (2007-10), working to advance equal opportunities policies and transforming the research culture across the University.

Reacting to the news, Vice-Chancellor Professor Wendy Larner said: “This is very sad news. Our thoughts, and those of everyone at Cardiff University, are with Professor Rees’ family, friends and former colleagues at this extremely difficult time.

“I am acutely aware of her inspirational work, both for her research and for her  work as a Pro Vice-Chancellor.  She was also a wise and generous mentor for many early career colleagues, myself included.  Such was her contribution to the University, she was rightly recognised with an Honorary Fellowship in 2016.

“Terry as she was more commonly known, showed warmth and compassion towards everyone she met and worked with – she will be sadly missed.”

Professor Rees influentially developed the concept of ‘gender mainstreaming’, tackling inequality by looking closely at culture, at unstated assumptions, and at everyday practices, and making these the focus of change.

Combining the very best of original conceptual development with rigorous evidence-based policy implementation, she established herself as the leading figure in the development of European gender mainstreaming policy, now an international framework for best practice in relation to gender equality policies.

Head of the School of Social Sciences, Professor Tom Hall added: “Terry was a true champion of gender equality, a senior social scientist whose work was acknowledged as ‘impactful’ long before we had that language, and Cardiff University’s first female PVC Research.

“She was a wonderful supporter of early career academics, as our Vice-Chancellor notes. Not all of my more recent and junior colleagues will have had that opportunity but a great many more will recognise her than ever knew her in life or worked with her. Terry’s photograph hangs proudly here in the School, a disruptive, determined and happy presence alongside the older oils and sombre male portraiture of the Glamorgan Building.

“It is very sad news, and our thoughts are with Terry’s family. In time we will celebrate all that this wonderful colleague stood for and accomplished.”

Professor Rees also made her mark on Welsh social and political life, with a lasting national contribution to Welsh higher education.

She chaired two independent investigations on higher education to assist the National Assembly for Wales in developing its policies, winning the Western Mail's Welsh Woman of the Year Val Feld Award in 2002 for her work to promote the life chances of women in Wales.

She was made a Commander of the British Empire for her work on equal opportunities and higher education in 2003, and became a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 2015 for services to social sciences.

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