About Stephen


Stephen Whitehead

Internationally recognised author, consultant and researcher on gender, sexuality, identity, management and relationships.

Contributing writer to EDDi

View of Chiang Mai

The Personal

I live in Chiang Mai, Thailand with my wife, Mam, and stepdaughter, Idea. My other children are Gavin, Jay, Robert and Eleanor. I was born in Southport, Lancashire, UK, moved to Leeds to manage pubs and restaurants through my 20s to mid 30s, did part-time athletics coaching, before embarking on my teaching and academic career when I was 38. I spent 10 years as a lecturer/manager in Further Education (Thomas Danby College, Leeds), before my PhD (men in management) transported me to Keele University in 1997.

I first came to Thailand in 2001, fell in love with the country, and made my permanent move here in 2008. I have now travelled all over East and South East Asia, though find Taipei the most amenable of cities after Chiang Mai. Consequently, while I spend most of the year in Thailand, I do ensure regular visits to Taiwan.

The Professional

My diverse professional identities and interests are reflected in my book topics and range. My tenth book, Gender and Identity, was published in February 2013. This academic text book was preceded in November 2012 by The Relationship Manifesto, a popular, self-help book based on my Relationship Manifesto Podcast Series. My eleventh book, published in 2014, was my first biography – of Ally Taylor. My Dark Side takes the reader into the realms of gender identity confusion, sexual experimentation and, ultimately, personal redemption. Finally, my latest book, published November 2019, is Toxic Masculinity: curing the virus, making men smarter, healthier, safer. Of all the books I’ve written, this is one closest to my heart. It explains how we can resolve one of the biggest challenges facing humankind: traditional masculine values and behaviours, otherwise known as ‘toxic masculinity’. Fortunately, there are other non-toxic masculinities out there and this book names them and explains how they function.

From 1997 to 2015 I was Senior Lecturer in Education and Sociology at Keele University, UK, including for the last six years as Keele’s International Programme Coordinator responsible for establishing and delivering a range of postgraduate courses (MBA, MA, PGCEi and EdD) for international school teachers/managers in Asia and the Middle East.

Bangkok, Thailand | Stephen Whitehead

Aside from now writing my 13th book, I am very active as a lead writer for Educational Digest International (EDDi). EDDi launched in September 2019 and is a fortnightly publication providing a succinct and accessible digest of the latest educational research. Since 2016, I have provided management consultancy services to a number of international schools across East and South East Asia. A specialism of mine is gender awareness raising for staff and students.

Finally, for a number of years now I have provided ‘Expert Guidance’ on gender and related global social trends to the BBC, media companies, and international marketing companies such as Flamingo Group  and Crowd DNA.

Doi Suthep Temple | Stephen Whitehead

The Practice

Life is more than just work. Or it should be.  I long ago learned that balance is the key to contentment and to physical and mental well-being: the balance of work, rest and play. For me, that balance has been achieved largely through Buddhism. In early 2004 I ordained for a brief period as a Buddhist monk in northern Thailand. I have since followed the Buddhist path, albeit in my own style. I meditate most days and through this discovered that only with a quiet mind can I truly be awake.

I have been a regular runner since my early 30s and still manage to do two or three good runs every week. I also enjoy pushing weights in my local gym and cycling the hills of Chiang Mai. I find writing therapeutic which probably explains why I’ve now answered close to 10,000 questions on quora.com!

Finally, I often get asked ‘Why do I live in Thailand?’. No simple answer. It just suits me. But the culture, people, weather, and low living cost all factor. Chiang Mai is just the best city in Asia. I also appreciate the relative freedom of being a Westerner in Asia, though I long ago divested myself of the Asian Mystique. That said, while I am pretty much integrated into Asia I am not assimilated. I accept that I will always be an Englishman abroad.

Buddhism - How it has changed me

  • I have learnt to go with the flow of life and events
  • I don’t try to change that which cannot be changed
  • I have learnt that my first reaction is not always the best one
  • I am more relaxed and at peace with myself
  • I am able to pray for the well-being of others and pass on good karma, positive energy by doing so
  • I have learnt to be comfortable with who I have become
  • I know I cannot live as a monk but I do know I can live a more spiritual life
  • I know that peace on earth can only come from peace within each human being Peace cannot be imposed on us by politicians or ideologies
  • I recognise that life is ultimately going to be painful at times. There is no avoiding pain and suffering only accepting it as the true reality for most people
  • I do not worry about that which is beyond my control
  • I am happier and more content
  • I have developed my sixth sense more and learnt to follow it
  • I am not absorbed by the acquisition of money or material things
  • I recognise my desires and have learnt to live with them
  • I have come to understand God not as a being but as the life force, the positive energy that enables the world into existence and maintains its balance and harmony

  • I have learnt that to forgive all things and all people everything is the only way to peace
  • I have learnt that it is important not to let anger and frustration overwhelm me
  • I have learnt that I must try to do good wherever possible
  • I listen to my body more, and to my inner voice
  • I make plans but do not worry when they come to nothing
  • I am more likely to accept what happens to me and around me
  • I have learnt the if we as a society or as an individual break or damage that harmony through negative actions then so will negative consequences come back to us – this is the basic law of karma – you reap what you sow
  • I have learnt not to fear death
  • I have learnt not to pontificate about Buddhism but to live it daily
  • I have learnt to know when I am angry and frustrated and to allow that anger and frustration to dissipate – leave me
  • I have learnt that only with a quiet mind can I truly be awake
  • I have learnt that most of us do not have a quiet mind – or any inner peace
  • I have learnt that the more I attach to myself, to material things, to that which gives me a sense of identity, the less likely I am to be at peace with myself

  • I have learnt that to love another you have to first love yourself
  • I have learnt that without inner peace we cannot be awake to the life itself
  • I have learnt that drugs do not work – meditation is far more powerful
  • I have learnt that sex can have a spiritual dimension
  • I have learnt that it is possible to have a soul-mate in this life, maybe more than one
  • I have learnt that only through silence can I hear that which tries to speak to me
  • I have learnt to accept that I am fundamentally weak, as are all human beings
  • I have learnt that intellectual knowledge is not enough in itself. We have to be humble enough to say ‘I do not know and cannot know everything’
  • I have learnt that every religion is the same in that it offers a path to the spiritual world around us and within us, and a pathway to enlightenment and inner peace
  • I have learnt to live in peace with my desires and ego, but not to let them determine who I am or what I can become
  • I have learnt that there is more to this life than can possibly be known and that we should not try to know everything but to accept our lack of knowledge
  • I have learnt that whatever I have learnt is only thoughts and words in this life – I actually know very little. It doesn’t matter. I have enough knowledge to live my life in a better, more enlightened way
  • I have learnt to forgive myself when I fail to heed and follow what I have learnt