Why the new female Dr Who is just the kind of future thinking we need right now

Recently the BBC announced the identity of the 13th Doctor Who, to be played by actor Jodie Whittaker. Within seconds of the announcement, scores of people took to social media to voice their opinions, with reactions ranging from optimistic delight at this progressive decision to outrage at the role being given to a woman.

It’s clear that despite living in 2017, for many, this decision is something from out of this world. But as guardian for future generations here in Wales, I believe this is just the kind of future thinking we need right now.

When we consider that this intergalactic timelord is capable of being reincarnated in twelve previous distinctive forms, why shouldn’t the Doctor be a woman? For those arguing it’s against tradition, this is a story all about constant change, and for those arguing that the reshuffle of pronouns will be confusing, perhaps they should re-examine their love of a show whose logic consists of a time-travelling alien in an alternate universe, before concluding that a female Doctor is incomprehensible.

Why do some feel so threatened by this change? Science fiction has always existed to push boundaries of what is conceived of as ‘normal’ in our every-day lives. It’s far past the time for us to break the glass ceiling of the TARDIS and embrace this forward-thinking move. Just because our real world continues to reveal the gender pay-gap and gross inequalities, why should we extend these concepts to our fantasy universes?

For those lamenting the role of a male hero — our real world still represents one where men are offered the lead roles. On our daily news, we are reminded of the constant sexist abuse faced by female politicians and those in a position of leadership. Here in Wales, despite women constituting 73% of all staff in local authorities, only 14% are Chief Executives. President of The World Bank, Jim Kim, recently wrote that no country, organisation, or economy can reach its full potential and meet the challenges without the full and equal participation of women and men.

Despite progress in many areas, there is still much we need to do to address the systemic imbalances in gender equality throughout Wales and the wider world. I personally will be looking out for Jodie Whittaker filming on the streets of Cardiff. If what they say is true and the future is female — it’s time for those living in the past to get on board, embrace the changes and offer up this magical universe to a whole new audience of future generations.

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