In order to counteract the “male, pale and stale” reputation that it’s acquired, Oxford University has announced plans to replace portraits of famous men with those featuring female, gay and black icons instead.
Students and staff have been asked to nominate subjects for the portraits, and some have already been put up.
A photo of Rhodes scholar Naomi Wolf is expected to go on display in Rhodes House, and the prominent feminist spoke with the Sunday Times about what it means to her.
“While pictures are not the same as gender or race equality, I do not think this is trivial,” Wolf said. “If all you see are white men, white men, white men, it is very hard to believe that people in your society think you have a place in history. Changing iconography helps to change how you see history.”
The paintings are part of Oxford University’s Diversifying Portraiture project, launched in 2014, and also follow a call from Prime Minister David Cameron earlier this year for the school to take more ethnic minority students.