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“It's important that I'm visible as a lesbian in a leadership role”

Pippa Gibson from the Department for Education blogs for us about her experience as a lesbian, as we kick off Lesbian Visibility Week.

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By Pippa Gibson

I’m Pippa and I’m a statistician at the Department for Education, leading a unit of around 25 analysts supporting early years and deprivation policy. I joined DfE in 2016 having spent the first 12 years of my career at Defra. I’m a lesbian, a mother and a fiancée. I should be a wife by now, but Covid has put paid to that for a while. I have a cat (obviously).

I came out at 17 and had very supportive family and friends who never made my sexuality a problem. I know this makes me lucky, and it’s what’s helped me feel able to be ‘out’ at work ever since I joined the Civil Service in 2004. It’s easy to forget this was before the Civil Partnership Act came into effect – so before same-sex relationships were legally recognised. In any case, throughout my career I’ve found colleagues to be nothing but accepting and supportive of my sexuality and family life. Occasionally people have assumed I have a male partner – usually relating to the fact that I have a 4-year-old daughter – but when I set them straight (so to speak) they apologise and we move on, no harm done. I know for some LGBT+ people this can be really difficult so I do call it out when it happens, but I try not to make it awkward.

I’m very open about my life, partner and family with my teams and colleagues. I like sharing stories about my personal life as part of my authentic leadership style, and I like finding out more about the people I work with. But it’s also really important to me that I’m visible as a lesbian in a leadership role, and to play my part in creating a diverse and inclusive Civil Service.

Happy lesbian visibility week!