Authors’ forum: I hear from Duncan MacDonald of Wildsounds (the ‘official’ Bird Fair booksellers), some interesting news on the Authors’ Forum speakers for this year and next year. Duncan has to be thanked for putting a lot of effort in to attempting to redress the gender imbalance in the Authors’ Forum with some success this year. Some of the female speakers suggested by the over 150 of you who have responded to this questionnaire (60% male, 40% female) will be pleased to know that some of your favourite female authors were asked this year but were unable to make the date but that Isabella Tree (her book Wilding was reviewed here), having rearranged her holiday plans for 2019 already (!), will be speaking at Bird Fair next year. That’s great news.
Travel talks: why is Tim Melling like a swift or a harrier? Because he ought to be quite pallid given the number of talks he gives in dark and sweaty Bird Fair tents over the Bird Fair weekend. I think Tim gave a dozen talks this year on birding locations around the world. So why Tim and not a bunch of women? I imagine its because most (I’m guessing, but I’m pretty sure I’m right) of the travel guides on wildlife holidays are men – does anyone have the data to disprove this? And the travel talks are largely sponsored by travel firms who presumably put up their best available speakers to promote the locations they visit and part of that is intimate knowledge of the places from having visited them in the past. So this is like that fact that many male celebrities who appear in the Events Marquee at Bird Fair are celebrities because they have been on the TV for years. This will change, and it would be good if it did fairly quickly, but it won’t be very much under the Bird Fair’s control.
Handshakes and chats: one of the nice things about the Bird Fair is the fact that I have a lot of short conversations with people who read this blog – but whom I’ve never met before. When I meet a man, they usually stride up to me with their hand outstretched for a handshake, they say something like ‘I just want to shake your hand for what you do’ and I say something self-deprecating and we, in a very manly way, move on. I move on with a bit of a smile on my face and a song in my heart. It tends to be different with women, in those cases they tell me that they read my blog every day and enjoy it (which sends me off with a smile on my face and a song in my heart too). But I always ask them whether they have ever commented on the blog and the answers are usually along the lines of ‘No, I’m not sure I am expert like many of the people who comment’. I’d just like to point out that I cannot recall a single instance when a man has said this to me. This is quite like the way that men and women look at job adverts. Without wanting in any way to put off the regular commenters on this blog (many of whom are blokes – at least they say they are) I would really like more comments from a wider variety of perspectives.
Which personalities do people want to hear and see at Bird Fair?: although I’ve had a bit of flak from the provocative way I raised this issue I’m interested in which female celebrities you would like to see performing in the Events Marquee in future. But unless there is a way of summoning up a fourth Bird Fair day or having talks through the night, then more women almost inevitably means fewer men. So those who want to have more women and all the same men aren’t really living in the real world. And, although many, including me remember, are asking for a rebalancing of the gender gap of speakers at the Bird Fair, as far as I am aware, the 150 respondents to my questionnaire is already the largest survey of what men and women want in this respect. I had a quick look at the results a while ago and they are interesting; I’d be surprised if they change a lot even if the sample size doubles (because I’ve done a few surveys online before) but go ahead, surprise me! Click here to tell me which female celebrity speakers you’d like to hear and which males could make way for them, and I’ll give you a summary of the results (without hurting any blokes’ feelings) and pass the results on to the Bird Fair organisers.