Tag Archives: mother

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.

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Visitor views and All Work and Low Pay extension

26 Jan

Hello! Sorry it’s been a bit quiet on here of late. We’ve been busy getting the Spring/Summer events sorted. And we’ve got some great news. All Work and Low Pay has now been extended until 25 August 2012. So if you’ve not had chance to visit the exhibition, you’ve got chance to make the trip this summer.

We’re continuing to receive loads of fantastic anecdotes from visitors in response to questions we’ve posed in the exhibition. Here’s just a selection:

‘I worked in a creative agency based in Hoxton for seven months. I was on minimal pay and as one of the only girls was constantly made to feel like my opinions were useless. They just wanted me to do what I was told – no questions asked. When another assistant position became available, one of my colleagues told the boy who applied that they really wanted a girl for the job as it was “a glorified housewife” position. ie shut up, don’t thinkĀ  don’t talk back. This was in 2011!’

‘My mother – now in her 60s – tried to teach me that women’s jobs were always less important than men’s. Women’s unemployment was high in the 1980s, she told me that there would be no problem with unemployment if women did not “take” jobs from men. Her advice had a galvanising effect on me, and I was determined that I would always earn my own living. My mother still talks about “lady doctors!”‘

‘I *had* my ideal work situation – self employed, freelancer and developing my creative side. Now – no paid work, only voluntary work – women are suffering in the cuts!’

‘A few years ago a friend of mine was at The London School of Fashion. After qualification she went for interview at Savile Row. Was taken as an apprentice though was told “we would rather have had a lad!” She’s a qualified master tailor now.’

‘My mother is the eldest of 12, and grew up in the 1950s in South Vietnam. She left school early to stay at home, help looking after her younger siblings and help her mother in the market selling fish. She married early and came to England in 1975 as a refugee during the Vietnam War. An intelligent woman, denied a formal education, she always supported my sister and I in our studies and careers. She encouraged us “not to marry early.”‘

‘My mum was taken out of school before O Levels by her mother, told “women have babies not careers”, she did various retail/cleaning work whilst doing adult education whilst we were small and graduated as a teacher at 40 with three very proud children. My situation couldn’t be more different, 24 and doing a PhD, I do wonder what work will be around by the time I finish though. All I know is she battled and worked incredibly hard to get anywhere due to class and gender.’

‘I am 21. A university student, I aspire to be a writer of columns, essays, stories, whatever. As long as I have a voice to tell others’ stories and my own, I will. I do want a family and a career. I believe I can have both, but we will see. Only time will tell!’