This 'Female Brian Cox' Meme is Silly

Can we just let this die, please?

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  1. A couple years ago @AlomShaha wrote a piece for the Guardian with the title "Where's the female Brian Cox?" In it he wonders why female scientists haven't had the kind of successes on tv as Brian (and @JimalKhalili and @AdamRutherford ...) and goes on to say, "I think it's genuinely important that my students have more women scientists as role models.... There are lots of initiatives out there to promote female scientists as role models, but I suspect that having one woman scientist with Brian Cox's level of fame would have the same impact as many of these initiatives combined."

    Though Alom's heart was in the right place, I disagreed with his article at the time for several reasons, but mainly because of the title (and, yes, I know that Alom didn't write the title). The title spawned a seemingly endless series of blogposts and articles and campaigns and blah blah blah, most of which - not all- I disagreed with...

    Then today on Twitter I saw this...
  2. response to this...
  3. ... and thought No! No! No!!! replying
  4. Last year at Ada Lovelace Day Live I gave a talk on this, pointing out what sacrifices you need to make, and skills and support you need to present a big BBC landmark series. Then I pointed out that there are already women presenting science programmes on the BBC who have made those sacrifices, have those skills and have great support at home (eg both Alice Roberts' and Maggie Aderin-Pocock's partners took time off work to look after their children so they could go off and film)... So rather than put a bunch of energy into complaining about what "the men" are doing, instead why not publicly, loudly, wildly support the women who are already presenting science programmes on the BBC instead?!

    You know, do something crazy like actually watch their programmes and tell the BBC how great they are. Why not start a Fuck Yea... Tumblr for one of them? Run a fan page on Facebook. Write a love song to one of them, and sing it to them when you meet. Turn up at one of their live events and then cry when you meet them afterwards (that's what I did after this). Write some slashfic (Wait! No! Don't do that. It's creepy.) In short, be wild, screaming fans of women. Those kinds of things matter if you want "the media" to pay attention.

    OK. I'm off to cook Brian dinner*.

    *Order Indian takeaway.

    Note: @TheWomensRoom wants me to point out that the "offending" tweet was by a "guest tweeter".