Monday, July 23The Voice of London

Passport Sexism Row: What About Scots?

The new British passport has come under scrutiny after including seven men, but what about our neighbouring nations?
Words: Eireann Beardon, Subeditor: Tessa Ross

new passports
Elizabeth Scott features on her own page, as well as the William Shakespeare watermark which is present on every page. Source: HM Passport Office


This UK has launched its most secure passport ever, containing new security features such as UV printing and sophisticated watermarks, but people are more worried about the artwork featured on the pages.

Architect Elizabeth Scott and mathematician Ada Lovelace are the only two women included in the new ‘Creative United Kingdom’ design. But everyone represented throughout the 34 pages is English. Is this not a problem, too?

The underrepresentation of women caused quite a stir on Twitter, Labour MP Stella Creasy was definitely pissed off:

Fellow Labour member Emily Thornberry created the hashtag #WeExist:

And feminist blogger Caroline Criado-Perez was just bored:

I’m all for equality of the sexes, and perhaps seven men compared to only two women does seem a little unfair. But all nine are English, meaning Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales are not being represented at all.

This hasn’t been given as much media coverage, and people are even a little shy about tweeting it:

Plaid Cymru MP Hywel Williams has said: “I’m incredulous that Wales will have no representation on new passports.”

Scottish MP Stewart Stevensons wasn’t happy either:

Of course these are both men, but many women on Twitter also feel the omission of women is not the only problem:

Mark Thompson, director general of HM Passport Office, defended the design in the sexism debate. He said: “It was not something where we set out to have only two women. In trying to celebrate UK creativity over the last 500 years, we tried to get a range of locations and a range of things around the country to celebrate our triumphs and icons over the years… Whenever we do these things there’s someone who wants their favourite rock band or icon in the book”.

So if the exclusion of women means young girls have nothing to inspire them, what about the young men and women in our neighbouring nations?