My blog wouldn’t be the blog it is today without Kat. From being there for support when I went self hosted a few years ago, tinkering with my blog to make it look how I imagined in my head, and then keeping me sane when I started doing it all myself, and occasionally almost break it. She has given me a place in her home to sew, and more importantly to rest and recover when parenting just gets too much for me. Her house is welcoming, her family wonderful and I feel very lucky to have her as a friend. Kat has a blog, Housewife Confidential, but can mostly be found on Twitter – she is also one of the founders of Blogtacular – the best blogging conference ever.
Happy anniversary and let me begin by saying that I am glad that you are one of the women in my children’s lives.
Like all children mine are sponges for the stories fed to them of our human history. Ask Monty about the fire of London and he’ll share everything he has learned with glee. But with their education being tilted heavily towards the white men in our history I want add the stories of the women who make up our past.
On a recent trip to the National Portrait Gallery my youngest, Betsy, asked me to read all of the details for every woman in the rooms we explored. Reading about women who did great things regardless of what was stacked against them is incredibly inspiring.
When I was asked to write about one of my heroes as a school child I couldn’t think of a single person I admired. Today, I’ve struggled to whittle my list down to just ten of the women whose work inspires me in my life. This is a list of ten women I want my children to know, (in no particular order).
Shami Chakrabarti’s work as a human rights advocate has her in the public eye regularly. Despite personal slurs from those in power she remains on track and brings about change. I am interested to see what role she takes in the changes to the Human Rights Act over the next few years.
In the 1800s there weren’t many people working on computer programmes. Ada on the other hand was pursuing her interest in maths supported by her mother (her father being Lord Byron who left, never to return after she was born). Not only this but she wrote the first computer algorithm for Babbage’s Analytical Engine. She has come to represent women in STEM and is commemorated each year on Ada Lovelace Day.
Have you ever been told that sexism simply doesn’t exist any longer? That your experience must have been an exception and really not the norm? Yeah, haven’t we all. Laura started The Everyday Sexism Project to record those insidious sexist experiences that every woman and girl experiences like a dripping tap. Not only does it lift the lid on our experiences but it also provides a platform to address issues such as Project Guardian which, in conjunction with British Transport Police, highlights and fights sexual assault on transport.
Dian’s work as a primate researcher led her to study groups of gorillas in the Rwandan mountains. Her studies over the course of 18 years not only gave us huge amounts of knowledge about gorillas but also conservation. She campaigned against wildlife tourism as the risk of cross species infection is a huge risk to gorilla populations. Dian was faced with poachers who would kill whole family groups in their attempts to capture infant gorillas for zoos or to sell their heads and hands as souvenirs. She established the Digit Fund (now Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International) to create anti-poaching patrols. Ultimately she was murdered in her mountain research cabin.
Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell
The discovery of pulsars as a student shot Jocelyn Bell Burnell to fame (and infamy when the Nobel Prize for the discovery was awarded to her thesis supervisor). Her career in Physics has spanned decades and she has contributed much to our understanding of the universe. I heard Dame Bell Burnell speak at a science festival last year and her accounts of how she was treated as a female student in University was very matter of fact but you can see how easily many women were driven out of their field.
Dame Kelly Holmes
Kelly Holmes was the first Briton ever to win double gold at an Olympics. That on its own is kick ass enough for me. And yet, what Kelly has done with her position is what really inspires me. She founded the Dame Kelly Holmes Trust which supports athletes transitioning out of sport and uses their skills in a mentoring programme for disadvantaged children. And that’s double kick ass.
Francesca is a comedian who challenges the concept of normal. As well as being hilarious she is a campaigner and has been particularly vocal in these recent years of government austerity. There are so many ways to change the world and I admire Francesca Martinez for using both comedy and campaigning to challenge our perceptions about ability.
Marie Curie was a scientist and her discoveries of radium and polonium were ground breaking. Her Nobel record is impressive: she was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, the first person to win two Nobel Prizes and remains the only person to have won two Nobel Prizes in separate sciences (physics & chemistry).
Amelia’s name has become synonymous with aviation and adventure. She was the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic and disappeared during an attempted circumnavigation of the globe in 1937. Not only did Amelia go after her passions with gusto but she founded the Ninety-Nines to support and advance women in aviation. It is something to be a trail blazer but lifting other people with you is something to really be proud of.
I firmly believe that the work of Kids Company is some of the most important work being done with children in Britain today. Camila’s work, campaigning and love are beacons in a time when there are increasing numbers of children living in poverty. I want my children to know that you can be a disruptive force in a world filled with status quo.
Those are just ten of the women I want my children to know. Who would be on your list?
I have asked ten bloggers to guest post for me in the run up to my 10 year anniversary at the start of July. I really hope that you enjoy these posts, and visit their blogs to say hello, or wave on Twitter. Each one of them has been a special part of my blogging life and I am so honoured to call them my friends.