You may be aware that there is a bit of a debate on the go just now about who should be the next Dr Who. In the unlikely event that you have never heard of Dr Who (in which case where have you been living?), the Doctor is Time Lord who rushes around the universe in a time machine called the Tardis, generally overcoming baddies (Daleks, Cybermen, big bits of plastic masquerading as evil aliens) and making a shed-load of money for the BBC in the process.
Dr Who began in 1963, with William Hartnell in the title role. The current ‘incumbent’, Peter Capaldi, is the 12th Doctor. Each successive Doctor has regenerated from the previous one. By tradition, the Doctor has a ‘companion’, invariably female, usually helpless in the earlier episodes but getting more spunky and serious in more recent years.
The series is undoubtedly a huge, global success story. Google “who will be the next Dr Who?” and you’ll get a longish list. The bookies favourite is apparently Ben Whishaw, with others getting favourable odds including The IT Crowd's Richard Ayoade, Rory Kinnear and David Harewood (who, if successful, would be the first black Doctor).
However, amongst the usual male line-up, some women are being touted for this prestigious role. Billie Piper (who has previously been a companion) is mentioned, but most money is on the multi-talented Olivia Coleman.
Other than the fact that the show is entertaining and a bit geeky, why does this matter to the IT industry?
Well, it’s quite simple. If you’ve visited this page before, you know that Be-IT has made quite a song and dance about the problems of getting enough girls to study STEM subjects at school and university – and the failure of our education system to do much about it. At the risk of over-egging this particular pudding, this is something that is SO important to the future of our industry, and the country’s economy, that anything that encourages girls and young women to take up science, computing and engineering subjects – and go on to make a career out of them – is to be not just encouraged but shouted from the rooftops.
A female Dr Who would be a great role model and would, I am sure, give those working in education, a real boost as they try to interest the next generation in a career in IT. Let’s hope that when Peter Capaldi fades on the screen in the next regeneration, the person who appears in his place is a woman.
Gareth Biggerstaff, MD, Be-IT Resourcing