Whitlam Institute

What Matters 2017 Finalist Entries

What Matters? Finalists 2017

2017 What Matters? NSW/ACT Year 7/8 Runner Up


Dr Who?


Albury High School

Flying through time and space, defeating aliens and tyrants, visiting the past and future, changing history.

Smart, funny, resourceful, brave. Face changing in order to defy death. Old, young, middle aged.

All these words describe the Doctor, star of the BBC hit show Doctor Who. He’s the world’s constant saviour. The basis of Doctor Who is pretty simple. The Doctor is an immortal time traveller. Every time he is killed he regenerates with a new face. He can be young, old, silly or serious.

So why has the Doctor never been a woman?

In the fifty years that the show has run women have been cast as the Doctor’s travelling companion or sidekick but never in the title role. Can’t women portray smart, strong and witty characters just as well? Some people argue that it is a tradition to have the Doctor played by a man, but it was also tradition to force black people into slavery. Not all traditions are good ones.

But it’s not just Doctor Who that needs a bit of gender diversity; it’s the media in general. It is only recently that women have been shown in books, TV shows and movies as independent people with dreams and aspirations who don’t need a man to save them. Don’t young girls everywhere need someone like this to look up to, to idolise; a role model?

By the time they reach school, girls often have less confidence than boys. Could this be because growing up the characters they saw on television or in books stood in the background, didn’t stand up for themselves and let someone else make their decisions for them? One of the most popular franchises among young girls is the Disney Princess franchise, yet Disney princesses didn’t start to have much independence until the 1990s. Even then they were often driven by romance. The first Disney Princess not to have a love interest was Merida, from the movie Brave, which was released in 2012. That was only five years ago!

One of my role models growing up was Hermione Granger. She was intelligent, crafty, well read and was vital in the destruction of Voldemort. Yet she was only a secondary character who was often overlooked by readers in favour of her male friends. Without her, Harry and Ron would have died years ago. But in the end she married Ron, a guy who had been horrible to her for year. Is that the kind of message we should be sending impressionable, young girls?

It is because of these influences that many girls’ aspirations are to grow up and get married. What about getting good marks or your dream job, travelling the world, meeting new people, having different experiences? Why are these female children living to find a prince and get whisked away, when they should be living for themselves?

Peter Capaldi is the 12th and current iteration of the Doctor. He has announced that this season of Doctor Who will be his last. Wouldn’t it be amazing if the 13th reincarnation was someone like Julie Walters or Helena Bonham Carter? It really would be a lucky number 13.


Jenna Beck