“We exist”

UK passport redesign features only two women among “real icons”

(R) Mathematician Ada Lovelace; (L) Architect Elizabeth Scott

The “Creative United Kingdom” passport was released this week, revealing a new design that celebrates 500 years of arts and culture – but many woman are upset with how few notable British women were honored, especially following the 2013 fight for equal representation on legal tender. Watermarks of The Bard himself, William Shakespeare, adorn every page of the new passport, which also includes portraits of artist John Constable, architect Sir Giles Gilbert Scott and the man who invented the marine clock, John Harrison. Of the nine figures featured across sixteen pages, only two are women: architect Elizabeth Scott, who designed the Royal Shakespeare theater, and mathematician Ada Lovelace, known for essentially designing the first modern computer. (Lovelace shares a page with Charles Babbage, with whom she worked.)

When pressed as to why so few women were included, Mark Thomson, director general of the Passport Office said the designers did not “set out to only have two women.” “We like to feel we have got a good representation. We have celebrated some real icons of the U.K, like Constable, and, of course, Elisabeth Scott herself. So we feel we have got a good representative sample,” he said.

Women around the UK are pushing back against what they perceive as sexism, claiming the Passport Office could have done more to highlight the contributions British women have made to society. Labour’s shadow employment secretary Emily Thornberry said that failure to include more women in the new passport proves that they must fight to prove that “we exist.”

“This is an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of women as well,” she said. “We have had this fight about bank notes and now it’s about passports. I just feel as though we are here all over again.”

Read the full story at the BBC.


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