I am pretty sure that Dr Who needs no introduction. No, he’s not one our new PhD students, but rather the Time Lord who, since 1963, has been a regular feature in the popular BBC show of the same name. Dr Who is a British icon, and is phenomenally popular, not just in the UK but in many other countries (which helps boost the BBC’s bank balance as a result).

Given that this is a serious blog about Aberdeen, the NE and university education and jobs, you may well be wondering why on earth I’m writing about a popular TV programme. Keep going and all will be revealed!

The first Dr Who was male. All eleven subsequent doctors have been men. The “female interest” was called a “companion”. In the early days these actresses were essentially there to get upset and scream when the scary monsters (Daleks, Cybermen, etc.) did anything unpleasant. However, fortunately, in the last few series, these female companions have not conformed to this sexist stereotype and, while perhaps not the Doctor’s equal when it comes to saving the world, are clearly women of independence and intelligence.

Now, Peter Capaldi, who currently plays the Doctor, has intimated that he wants to leave, so there is considerable speculation as to who will be his replacement.

The media report that there are several well-known names in line for a shot at this famous role, with the favourite being Ben Whishaw, while other actors who are apparently in with a shout include The IT Crowd’s Richard Ayoade, Rory Kinnear and David Harewood (who would be the first black Doctor if he gets the part). However, amongst all these men, there are, for the first time, some female actors being seriously considered, notably the very talented Olivia Coleman.

Given that RGU is a university that researches and teaches, amongst other things, science and engineering and is fully committed to encouraging women into STEM subjects, I would love to see a woman get the role as Dr Who.

woman-1455991_640It is well-known (by our staff as much as anyone else), that, in common with every university, we simply do not have enough female students (and consequently teaching staff to provide the role models) in these areas. While the problem begins at school, where not many girls want to study STEM subjects, we ultimately see the results in the male-dominated world of computing, engineering, science and maths.

Consequently, the new Dr Who should be a woman. Not only would this demonstrate to young women that they can succeed in a previously male-dominated world, it would also, I am sure, give all those working in education a real fillip and would, hopefully, interest more women in a career in science and technology.

Julie Skinner, Resourcing & Benefit Specialist
Email: j.skinner@rgu.ac.uk