I’ve got a slot again for the Edinburgh International Book Festival on Monday 21st August 2017 (loads of tickets still available). I am on a panel with Author Gill Arbuthnott and Illustrator Neill Cameron. As part of our research preparation Gill and I met up in Blackwell’s Bookshop in Edinburgh. After a couple of coffees in Café Nero and a catch up we set off around the books to do some research. Nearly thirty years ago I did my teacher training course at Goldsmiths’ College London, we had several lectures on looking through the printed word and look for stereotypes, images and think of the subliminal messages these may deliver. So as part of our research we wandered the shop to find images in Science books.
Firstly what riled us, and continues to annoy, is that Science books are found in the most inspiring of categories (said with true irony)- REFERENCE! It doesn’t matter if the book is knowledge or a story, that is where it is dumped! Then we looked for images of people.
What became obvious was in the thirty years since my teacher training things haven’t moved on. There were virtually NO images of African Caribbean people in Science books. There were a few Asian images, and plenty of girls and women.
We found one image on the front of a nursing book.
Imagine if you were a black child in a class in school. How would you feel that this thing called Science applies to you if you never see any role models? How can we engage and make you people contribute and realise they have an important role to play? Steps are being made to address the gender gap in Science by creating opportunities for women. I say there is also a requirement for us to engage the 3.5% of the UK population that have African-Caribbean roots.
I hope that I’ve not said anything un-PC. I find it hard to keep up, but I would like to get any opinions from this under-representative population of the UK. Hopefully we can get a few authors to write some popular books, particularly Science books where the hero is connected to this group of the population. Would anyone like to be the star?
So if that is you- stand up and tell us how we can inspire you!