Sexism in birding: pictures of male birds more prominent than those of female birds

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Dr. Mya-Rose Craig, 19, the now famous twitcher who was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Bristol after becoming the youngest person in the world to spot 4,000 bird species aged 13, has called out “sexism in birding”. She explained what she means in a tweet: “If you aren’t into nature, you won’t know that when you go into birdwatching hides there are often posters up to help you with bird ID. But why should female birds always be shown as a smaller picture insert??”.

She wondered whether this is a form of sexism in birding. She goes on to tweet: “Any decent world birding field guide has illustrations of male, female and eclipse plumages because that is what is needed to identify species. So why not here? We need a revolution”.

Mya-Rose Craig ornithologist

Dr. Mya-Rose Craig, ornithologist. Photo: BBC.

I believe that in her tweet she includes photographs of male mallards, teals and shovelers with much smaller depictions of females in the background. Incidentally, I can’t find this particular tweet which is why I’ve had to describe it.

Her tweet was directed at the RSPB which has promised to review its educational posters. An RSPB spokesperson said: “It is a fair point and we must do better. We are pleased Mya-Rose brought this to our attention and will be reviewing these posters with our team internally.”

Craig has 23,000 Twitter followers. She has some clout. Comment: she appears to have picked up on a very subtle and perhaps insidious version of sexism for which we must praise her. She has a habit of breaking down boundaries and pushing the envelope. Craig is a Bangladeshi-British citizen. She clearly has an enormous amount of commitment and stamina combined with plenty of ambition. Good luck to her.

Her mother was astonished that her daughter has become the youngest person in the country to receive an honorary doctorate. She said though that it has been a bit difficult for her daughter and herself because she has received negativity in being outspoken on race, diversity and the environmental movement. She said: “It’s been difficult, so it’s good that she is now getting that recognition.”

She sent some emails to Bill Oddie who is a nature enthusiast and television presenter and a former comedian who said that she is a superhero and “intelligent, informed, passionate, and persistent, whatever the cause, such qualities are what gets things done.”


P.S. Full Bill Oddie credits: English writer, comedian, composer, musician, artist, birder, conservationist, television presenter and actor. He was a member of comedy trio The Goodies!

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