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Guest Post- Phoebe (aged 15)

21 Mar

I’m Phoebe, I work as a volunteer at the Women’s Library and I am writing about women across generations in my family.

Surprisingly, the things I want to do in my life are not very different to those that my grandmothers and great grandmother did. Although neither my paternal grandmother nor great grandmother have held down any real job, my great grandmother did go to university to study languages (French and Italian, at the Sorbonne and in Perugia) and I am also planning to do either French and Russian or History at university. My maternal grandmother worked as a nurse in an Australian boarding school, which, whilst it is something which I would definitely not consider as a career option, I do admire as she was a single mother.

I would love to have a career, perhaps as a journalist or a writer but I would also like to have children and raise a family, something all the women in my family have successfully done. My great grandmother brought her daughter up through the Second World War, and they had to flee from the Nazis in the south of France. My paternal grandmother managed to bring up five children in a single parent family and my maternal grandmother both held down a job as a nurse at the local boarding school and cared for four children. I would like to be as successful a mother as them, although I hope my parenting style will be much different. My great grandmother can remember leaving her daughter outside in the snow whilst she did her shopping, whilst my paternal grandmother swept the youngest children off to India, where they received minimal education.

Although the world of work has opened up considerably, for women of my grandparent’s generation the only careers available were nursing or teaching, there are still glass ceilings to be broken. There are very few female executives and jobs requiring strenuous activity, such as janitors, the army and sports teachers, are still mainly male dominated. There are also female dominated areas, such as receptionists, nursing and hair dressing. To create a truly equal society, these gender barriers and stereotypes must be overcome.