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Postcards from Scotland

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Carol Craig is the Centre's Chief Executive. She is author of The Scots' Crisis of Confidence, Creating Confidence: A Handbook for Professionals Working with Young People, The Tears that Made the Clyde: Well-being in Glasgow and The Great Takeover: How materialism, the media and markets now dominate our lives. Her latest book is Hiding in Plain Sight: Exploring Scotland's ill health. She is Commissioning editor for the Postcards from Scotland series. Carol blogs on confidence, well-being, inequality, every day life and some of the great challenges of our time. The views she expresses are her own unless she specifically states that they reflect the Centre's thinking.

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Posted 09/11/2009

One of the things which has caught my attention recently is a piece by Ken  Roy on his Scottish  Review On-line. For those of you who dont know about it, this is the best source of critical, independent thinking in Scotland. Ken and his team are asking trenchant questions about a host of topical issues - the banking crisis, bonuses, public appointments and much more beside. But the piece which I enjoyed recently was one Ken wrote on Scottish Television's short list for their Greatest Scot of All Time. One of the names which appears is Anne Gloag, who set up a bus company in Scotland in recent times. I do not want to detract from Anne Gloag's achievements but the idea that she may be a candidate for 'the Great Scot' title is, as Ken pointed out, ridiculous. Indeed if I were Anne Gloag I would be mortified as her inclusion on this list is an open invitation for people to be disparaging about her. The truth is the committee felt they needed to have a woman on the list and in the absence of many women with a profile in Scotland - both historically and currently - they decided that poor Anne Gloag had to be added to the list so that they wouldn't be seen as sexist. Would it not have been much better if the Committee had said publicly that they were aware that they had put together an all male list and that this sadly reflected two othings about SCotland?: traditionally women have not been encouraged to play an equal part in Scottish life. When they have achieved anything it is usually  ignored and this is one of the reasons why it is difficult to short list women for these types of awards.

Ken suggested that the committee should have short listed Saint Margaret of Dunfermline. St Margaret is truly an inspirational figure but it is interesting to note that while much of her great work was in Scotland and she was married to a Scottish king she was herself English born and bred. I seriously doubt that St Margaret would have been the person she was if she had been brought up in Scotland - a country not known for its encouragement to women.

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