Add some balance to the expert commentary

Look. If this triggers your innate biases or your need to call me out as a virtue signaler or tell me “now isn’t the time”, seriously save yourself the spittle and a few blood pressure points. I won’t authorise your comments below. Those from the media – please consider seeking out and using more female scientific and medical experts in your stories around the subject of COVID-19 and SARS-CoV-2.

Right. Now that’s done, and I’ve unconventionally used up all my preamble space, let’s move on.

Most of the expert medical and scientific comments provided in the media in Australia around COVID-19 (I won’t bother with virus name, none of you care!😭) and around the world seem to be from old white males (OWMs).

Don’t tell me that’s because there’s more male expertise. That’s bull. There are just more males willing to be a talking head and males don’t cop anything like the flak women do, in the comment sections or on social media, that follows on from commenting publicly.

No, I haven’t discovered something new here – I’m just writing the introductory part and I need high-level facts to fill it.

So much COVID-19 media interest

I have been overwhelmed by media requests in the past two weeks – some remain unanswered in my InBox for which I am most sorry. I am constantly asked to suggest other experts if I can’t comment myself. I’m also asked to suggest additional people who could comment for a story I’ve already provide some comment for. Unfortunately, I haven’t, until now, had a moment to think this through. Or to construct a list of experts.

A list of female expertise for journos

What I’ve put together below is a list of names and links to Twitter profiles for some (it’s not exhaustive) local or international media to approach to ask for comment.

The assumption is that those on these lists are all able to talk with some authority about some aspect of COVID-19.

Each person has individually told me that they are okay to be on this list.

If you have other suggestions for non-male experts, please send me a message through the comments section below or follow and DM me via Twitter. I may not see it on Twitter otherwise.

The section where the defensive caveats will be added

I feel like I may be back to edit this post a few times, and not just to add more expert non-males.

I’m not saying OWMs shouldn’t comment, but we need to message as widely as possible during the upcoming potential pandemic. To think that the best source is one which represents just a fraction of society is failing to recognise the diversity we need to reach out to ensure we get important messages about risk reduction, calm preparation and new knowledge heard by as many as possible.

I’m not implying that you haven’t already sought out well-balanced commentary. I’ve created these lists so that when I say no to interviews to make space for others to speak, I have a different pool to pick from that isn’t influenced by my own memory fail or biases.

Journos – please use this list

So if you are a University recommending experts to talk, dig a bit deeper and ask your Faculyites to put out a call to your non-OWMs, to consider exposing themselves to this process. And it is an exposure, don’t get me wrong. It comes with risks for them so offer them any training they need and keep an eye on them, supporting them if they are new to this.

If you are journalists, please dip in and use this list!

The Antipodean list

The International List

Shorthand

  • A/Prof-associate professor
  • AVS-Australasian virology society
  • Dr-Doctor
  • Epi-epidemiologist
  • ICP-Infection control and prevention
  • ID-infectious disease
  • PH-public health
  • Prof-Professor
  • Uni-University
  • USA-United States of America
  • WHO-World Health Organization

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8 thoughts on “Add some balance to the expert commentary”

  1. Seems like a good idea Ian, could provide an interesting perspective. Thank you for your informative tweets.

  2. I know you won’t print this, but I would just like to let you know that my estimation of you just went to zero. I’m currently facing a threat to lose my job be a use of attitudes like yours, as I’ve been told by my executives that I’m old white male and need to step back – presumably to play bowls. So, I finish this (technical) book I’m writing and I’m out. All based on my skin colour and gender. MLK would be horrified. – Fred

  3. Hi Ian. You missed my tweet and omitted Dr Jenny Robson, Head of Microbiology at Sullivan Nicolaides Pathology. An authority. And DM didn’t work either btw. Nick Musgrave

  4. I have a few people to recommend (Antipodean or otherwise), do they have to have Twitter handles? Also I see your DMs are closed (understandably), so should I post recommendations here, e-mail, or…?

    1. If you share your twitter handle, I’ll follow you and you can DM me these – or list them here

  5. Thank you for giving a factual and truly balanced view of this virus. I know you have worked long gruelling hours with little support, and you have a right to sight what you see as a problem in your field of expertise. Yes, women sometimes need a hand up, not a handout. The prejudiced that women see in everyday life is disheartening in this day and age. Many good minds have gone to waste through lack of opportunity. For those who have risen above the the social mud of medical practice, they have champions like you that mitigate the pain of that journey.
    Stay safe and well.

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