I was going to insert a picture here but try an internet search for ‘woman expert‘
& a rather bizarre mix of images comes up.
I have recently registered on The Women’s Room. I spent the best part of a year procrastinating about this. Periodically I would go on the website then declare it looked too complicated. Of course it wasn’t too complicated; I was just nervous about the whole thing. Why? Because I didn’t feel confident declaring myself as an expert. Small wonder that women are under-represented as talking heads etc when even those of us who have officially recognised credentials and qualifications err away from ‘going public’. It all seems a bit too intimidating, especially when one considers the vile way that many women in the public eye are treated (the case of Caroline Criado-Perez, The Women’s Room founder, being a prime example of this).
Of course simply listing myself on the website is no guarantee that my services will ever be requested; and even if they are, the resulting soundbite alone wouldn’t make me the next Amanda Vickery or Lucy Worsley. Sometimes, though, expertise can be called upon closer to home. Yesterday, a librarian friend rang to speak to me about a new initiative in her school, which is about a mile away from where I live. A history teacher wants to start an ‘Ask an Expert’ scheme, whereby students can email someone with expertise in a particular field to ask questions related to their school work. ‘Brilliant idea’, I replied. ‘Good’, she said. ‘I mentioned you as an expert’. Cripes, I thought. Answering teenagers’ questions about the suffragettes and the Cold War? Might be easier to face Paxo…But I’m excited by the idea and have emailed the teacher in question to volunteer. I’m all for encouraging young people to get into history, it could be fun and who knows where it may lead. Plus it helps me get used to the label ‘expert’ without having to worry too much about my profile picture.