WatchtheWoman Who Made Up her Mind take around two minutes and 40 seconds to make her decision "that'll be a No from me", and it seems rather like a compression of recent research on women voters.

the Better together adverts, we are told, are a response to such research - campaign director Blair McDougall has said that the lines are taken verbatim from real women's quotes made in focus groups and on doorsteps.

So perhaps some real woman out there really did describe her husband in words along the lines of, "My Paul is worse than the telly these days. he will not leave off about the referendum! he started again first thing this morning; 'have you made a decision yet?' I was like, 'It's too early to be discussing politics, you eat your cereal.'" But it looked to me that it was also driven by anxiety about the women's vote, created as a response to poll analysis and academic work. What is known, statistically speaking, about what women want exudes from every word the woman in the advert says as she hugs her flowery mug of tea, weighing things up, in her kitchen. Many women are concerned about the pound, tick. they are concerned about oil, tick. they are statistically very slightly less likely to be politically informed than men, tick. Uncertainty, according to the Scottish Social attitudes Survey is what makes them undecided, tick. (the woman in the advert says, "that's why all this uncertainty bothers me".)

It is hard to deny that there are women out there like her, who think like her, and might find their own worlds and minds echo in hers. But the end result of packaging all this up together in a fictional character who is so under-informed she refers to the First Minister as "that guy off the telly" is that it does appear excruciatingly, almost satirically and comically, sexist.

and it appears sexist not just to the staunch Yes voters who have spoofed it and succeeded in turning it, as one Guardian article described, into a Yes advert, via a social media stormof ironic slogans written across screen grabs, like: "thinking is hard. Just vote No." It appears sexist also to some of the undecideds still swithering as to which way to go. It even appeared that way to Sandra Grieve, former convener of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, who has now decided she is voting Yes on account of the "condescending smugness", and former Liberal Democrat MSP and No voter Margaret Smith, who tweeted that it was "absolutely appalling".

The Woman Who Made Up her Mind is a testimony to how easily attempts to target women voters can backfire. according to Professor ailsa henderson of the University of Edinburgh, this is a problem afflicting many campaigns courting the female vote. She says: "It runs the risk of portraying all people in a particular category as if they are the same, and of failing to recognise that the group might contain within it incredible diversity on other dimensions that are important, like national identity, or education or income. You run the risk of running a really simplistic appeal which then backfires because people are so patronised." Patronised, certainly, was the word used by the twitter surge that exploded under #PatronisingBtLady. Of course, most of the fiercest critics have been Yes campaigners. I've seen Nos defend the advert. When I posted the advert on the Facebook page for a Women Undecideds debate I held, there were some who replied saying they didn't think it was so bad. "I think it's fine," said one, "not too sexist at all." another thought it was a good advert, and cited the fact that she knew "no female voting No or Yes who liked 'that guy off the telly'." But these two were already decided No voters, and not really the target. One undecided, "veering towards Yes", described it as "condescending" and "personally offensive".

Meanwhile, there are plenty of No campaigners on the web and social media who also don't like the ad. On the Women together Facebook page there is even one No voter who says: "It doesn't portray women in a very good light. It portrays them as indecisive, and having no interest in politics, which of course is 'in the main' not the case …"

Not surprisingly, Women For Independence has criticised the advert. Founder carolyn Leckie describes it as "breathtakingly out of touch". "You would have thought," she says, "that somebody might be feminist in the No camp and would have seen this broadcast and somehow stopped it. It portrayed women as passive, voicing their opinions in the kitchen, out of earshot of the man. It suggests that our only concerns are as mothers. there are a lot of women who are neither mothers nor want to be mothers."

Indeed, one of the problems with the Woman Who Made Up her Mind is that it has also made Better together look like a campaign run by men. One gets the impression that there were no female minds involved in creating this advert. I asked Better together to provide voices to feature in this article but they did not do so. But we do know that there are many women involved in Better together, and some of them are feminists, some are members of their female offshoot Women together, some are crusaders for women's issues. Indeed, many of the Labour No defenders that I've talked to in recent times - Kezia Dugdale, Margaret curran - would declare themselves unavowed feminists. TaLat Yaqoob is a feminist blogger active in Women together. One might expect her to criticise the advert but in fact, she says: "any advert with one woman discussing her views shouldn't be seen as being representative of all women. We wouldn't do that to a man in an advert. It is important not to try and negatively skew it into what the campaign thinks of women. If that was the case then why would the campaign have women leaders, academics, doctors, lawyers and more taking part in it and providing a platform for their valid and intelligent opinions?" So how DO you target women without alienating them? I believe the answer lies almost entirely at grass roots. Women, like men, need not just to see themselves represented, but also to feel a part of things. Both the No and Yes sides have long had their own women's organisations. Women For Independence, however, has the more vibrant, grass-roots energy, and was the first to be set up.

It was created, says activist Natalie McGarry, "over a glass of wine" in 2012, with former MSP Carolyn Leckie as its main driving force. McGarry recalls that at that time she had been watching some of the debates and "getting really annoyed because it was all just men". She had never classed herself as a feminist, but she got on to Twitter and moaned about it, saying: "Why don't we do something?" It i worth looking at Women For Independence's campaign video to see how different the Better Together ad could have been. Because it features diverse, real women rather than actors it seems more authentic - though it too is scripted. Currently, the campaign is creating another video, to be released next week, which follows a woman travelling around a future Scotland, talking about her life, equality of pay, and the various protections she has under law. It will climax in a sequence of women talking about making this future Scotland real, talking in their own words, unscripted. AS well as the grass-roots campaigns, there are also publications making the women's case for either side. Women Saying No, a collection of essays by former Labour MP Maria Fyfe, has only just been published this week. Fyfe says she started to pull the book together because she "got fed up with endlessly seeing in the papers it being noted that women were more likely to vote No than men and speculation about why they were more likely to vote No than men, but scarcely a woman ever being asked why. There would be all sorts of speculation, but I wasn't hearing women's voices." What then did she think of The Woman Who Made Her Up Her Mind? "I think," she says, "that it is pretty amusing that there is such a kerfuffle about this advert. Where were the voices when it came to things like the SNP having far fewer women MSPs? Where were they when the Scottish Government started cutting further education places that women benefit from? There are big issues, things going on that are not being addressed by the Scottish Government and they keep saying that everything will have to wait for independence. But there are plenty of things we can change with the powers we have."

In many ways, what has been missing in the mainstream of the Yes campaign and in the White Paper is any strong vision for women beyond the promise of more childcare and a more secure NHS. One such vision has been imagined, recently by two Radical Independence campaigners, Jenny Morrison and Cat Boyd in their book, Scottish Independence; A Feminist Response. It's a short, passionate tract that strongly denounces the "poverty of feminist analysis in the referendum campaign from both sides".

The quantity of debate on this topic has been miserable by comparison with what trailed devolution in the 1990s. Only at the grass roots do we hear those arguments strongly. Only there do we find women talking about a truly gender equal Scotland. Indeed, it's there we find hope. It's there we find a breadth of female voices. It's there we can step outside the boxes of Paul or Paula.