Tackling the under-representation and misrepresentation of women of colour in Scotland’s public life and media

Women of colour commentators exist all over Scotland. We are educators, researchers,1 campaigners, policy makers, activists, writers, public sector workers, carers and often unpaid experts in so many areas. However, we are missing from media; rarely are our expertise (whether from personal or professional experience) seen on screen, read in papers or heard on radio. Even when the issues being discussed are about race and/or gender. We are overlooked and undervalued.

Too often the response from event organisers or media producers is that no woman of colour was known or could be found or often it is the same (very small) group of women of colour leaned on to make public apperances – which is not representaive and utterly draining for those women. It is simply not good enough, and despite many attempts to raise awareness of this (often with women of colour doing the labour behind the scenes), we continue to be under-represented. 

This is not simply an issue over numbers, of ticking a box to have some “diversity” on a panel or quoted in an article, it is also about how these things are organised, what decisions are made and, crucially, what issues get oxygen and time to influence public opinion in Scotland. 

This (growing) list is a small attempt to change that, ultimately it is the responsibility of those creating the platform (whether it’s a conference or a radio interview) to source a wide pool of opinion makers which reflect the diversity of Scotland and can speak to the issues of the day. Our work is to remind them of this responsibility and create a space of accountability, where under-representation becomes unacceptable. Please note; when we use the term “expert” we do not use it in a hierarchical way, expertise of lived experience is as valuable to us as professional experience or qualifications. 

If you are looking for someone to be on a panel, give a keynotes, be on tv, write an opinion piece or be on radio. Here’s a place to start. BUT women should not feel compelled to give their expertise for free. If you require input from women of colour pay them adequately for their time through speaker or contributor fees. At the very least ensure expenses are paid to prevent them being out of pocket when they are supporting your work. 

If you work in Scottish media, want to lead by example by creating opportunities and ensure more representative expertise are aired, get in touch with us and become a partner

Join inJoin the experts list

If you are a woman of colour based in Scotland, tell us your expertise and add yourself to the list. The list is evolving and needs to grow. 

About Pass the Mic

This project was founded in October 2019 by Talat Yaqoob; she is a feminist and anti-racist campaigner working across a range of issues for over 15 years. During that time she has often participated in media as a commentator and columnist. She is also a public speaker and is asked to be part of  panels and give keynote speeches across the third and public sector. Talat started Pass the Mic to make sure these opportunities are available to more women of colour in Scotland, to tackle the lazy line she’s heard too often; “we couldn’t find anyone” and to push for change in how  media and public opinions are influenced in Scotland.

This project works with the women and organisations behind GEMS and is supported by Women 50:50:logowomen5050