Too often the panellists and commentators are all men, as was the case on Newsnight Scotland last night. I guess they thought they'd had one woman (the excellent Kezia Dugdale) on this week so they could relax. I've also seen all male entire programmes.
You do rarely get all female panels, when producers feel shamed into it, but they discuss things like the lack of women's voices in the debate rather than the substantive issues of the referendum.
As Kate Higgins put it last night:
@caronmlindsay @CAJardine whit? Allow wimmin to talk big meaty things like jobs and economy? Dinnae be daft! #newsnicht
— Kate Higgins (@burdzeyeview) January 8, 2014
We have tried complaining to the producers, but nothing ever seems to change.
So, it's time to go a little further. And for that, we need the help of Scotland's progressive male politicians and political commentators to follow the example Mark Pack set last year. If all of you simply refused to take part in all-male panels, the producers would know that they would have to put more effort into making sure that they invited more women. That doesn't mean that they get away with having just one woman and a whole load of men. Ideally you need more balance than that.
A quick chat amongst half a dozen people on Twitter had about 30 different names of good women on both sides of the debate. I can think of at least another 20 more we should be hearing from. You would think from the panel discussions up until now that Scotland was made up of around 20% women rather than us being the majority of the population. It's not fair that our views, diverse that they are, are being frozen out because producers call the usual male suspects.
Gerry Hassan is on board with this idea, tweeting today:
@caronmlindsay @thoughtland @Scotto_Voce @patrickharvie We cant be 'a nation in conversation' with more than half of it missing on gender.
— Gerry Hassan (@GerryHassan) January 9, 2014
So, men of the Scottish political scene, will you take the pledge. Will you refuse to take part in all-male panels? The whole debate will be a lot healthier if you do. A debate that does not reflect the true Scotland is no debate at all. You can help make it what it should be.