Girls and opportunities

Last Friday I went to see ‘Blue Stockings’ at the Globe.  It served as a reminder that we owe much to those first women who committed themselves to scholarship and gave up the accepted life of a wife and mother.  I was shocked however at how recent was this change.  We glimpsed the experience of the first women at Girton College, Cambridge and saw their disappointment and fortitude in the face of male hostility and a failed vote to allow them to graduate.
What shocked me was that it was not until 20 years later,  1948, that women were granted the right to graduate.  Only a lifetime ago, a year before I was born.
Much has changed, thankfully, in my lifetime and women have equal rights now as a matter of course in all things.  However there are still challenges.  We still have perceptions to change and some feel girls need educating separately to give them confidence.  There is talk of glass ceilings and unequal pay.  We debate maternity leave and promotion.
My particular focus of the moment is girls and engineering.  I am working with UTCs and we want more girls to apply.  Girls are as good as boys at engineering, after all every single thing we use in everyday life has to be engineered.  So all power to the elbow of those at WISE and well done Women’s Hour last Tuesday morning for highlighting the issue through the experience of the JCB Academy.  Julie White, CEO of her own concrete cutting company,  is an inspiration.  She deserves  a following of girls and the UK needs them actively engaged in high tech skills too.
Parental engagement in education  has long been a priority for me particularly for our youngest children who need reading practise at home for a good start.  Now I see parents of teenagers who should not have to ask of a UTC as one did only last week: “Can girls apply?” So parents need to be engaged 5-18.
Girls and boys together make great teams,  they have different skills and approaches,  jointly they succeed.

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