The Passport Office has been accused of having "airbrushed women out of history" and having "a problem with institutional sexism" as a row continues over the new UK travel document.
The design for the new UK passport with the theme “Creative United Kingdom” has sparked backlash as it was revealed that just two women were featured, compared with seven men.
Mathematician and writer Ada Lovelace and architect Elisabeth Scott are depicted in the latest version of the document unveiled today.
By contrast, seven men including William Shakespeare, artist John Constable and sculptor Anish Kapoor are represented either in portraits or through their achievements, the Press Association reported.
Official literature said that the new passport features some of the best achievements of the last 500 years in Great Britain and Northern Ireland".
Sam Smethers, Chief Executive of the Fawcett Society, said of the new design: “Instead of being celebrated and remembered great British women are being airbrushed out of history.
"They could have included the first feminist and writer Mary Wollstonecraft, Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, Virginia Woolf, Bridget Riley - the list is endless. This is completely unacceptable and the dismissive response of the Passport Office is revealing in itself.
"It appears that they have a problem with institutional sexism. Fawcett would be more than happy to offer them some help”
Mark Thomson, director general of the Passport Office, defended the design.
He said: "It wasn't something where we said 'let's set out to only have two women'.
"In trying to celebrate the UK's creativity we tried to get a range of locations and things around the country to celebrate our triumphs over the years, so there we are."
Asked about the omission of female icons such as Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters, he said: "Whenever we do these things there is always someone who wants their favourite rock band or icon in the book.
"We've got 16 pages, a very finite space. We like to feel we've got a good representative view celebrating some real icons of the UK- Shakespeare, Constable and of course Elisabeth Scott herself."
Many on Twitter were less than impressed, including Walthamstow MP Stella Creasy…
— stellacreasy (@stellacreasy) November 3, 2015
— Emily Thornberry (@EmilyThornberry) November 3, 2015
— Catherine Mayer (@catherine_mayer) November 3, 2015
Sing it, sister.
— Caroline CriadoPerez (@CCriadoPerez) November 3, 2015
Someone always "wants their famous rock band or their local icon" included.. Or representation of 50% of human race https://t.co/kIC5A2DlIF
— Jess Smith (@Jess1534) November 3, 2015
Women erased from history and culture AGAIN! We're not asking for our fave rockstar, we are 1/2 the population!! https://t.co/wJCBWbHCB0
— sianushka (@sianushka) November 3, 2015
— Rosianna Halse Rojas (@papertimelady) November 3, 2015
Some also pointed out that no Welsh, Scottish or Northern Irish people were included either…
@DannyShawBBC Where are the Scots, Welsh and Northern Irish? UK passport? Doesn't represent women OR the UK as a whole.
— Jay (@jaay89) November 3, 2015
@DannyShawBBC where is the Welsh representation. No room for Roald Dahl? Where is my representation as a Welsh woman? 2 women and no Welsh!!
— . (@RBazinga123) November 3, 2015
Celebrating "England's Creativity" on the new UK passport that only features two woman and no Irish, Welsh or Scots. https://t.co/8vQ0Dl8PPw
— Paul Aitken (@mrpaulaitken) November 3, 2015
Not only is it only 2 women. Not a single one of these 9 people are Scottish, Welsh or Northern Irish. UK passport? https://t.co/vceY3afnsv
— Jay (@jaay89) November 3, 2015
However, some didn’t seem to see any problem with the selection…
@Independent sad as shit that women spends all her time complaining about nothing , thank god for UKIP
— Alan branock (@vegas870) November 3, 2015
— Dave is goat (@GrecianYid) November 3, 2015
@guardian ad if the media hadn't made a fuss who would have actually noticed??
— Cath (@catovi) November 3, 2015