The trouble with women is that they’re so multi-talented, it’s difficult to put them in one category. Aviator, scientist, sporting hero, even mother. “The Lionesses go back to their families.”
City Eye began by looking at invisible women, the incredible talented women who’d been written out of history or missed the Nobel Prize, Marie Curie, Jocelyn Bell Burnell and many others. Now suddenly winners in cricket and football, the women are everywhere, attracting massive new interest.
One woman who absolutely defied classification was Lady Mary Heath, brought to light by a BBC documentary The Lady who flew Africa.
Six foot tall, a champion athlete, and javelin thrower, she held the unofficial record for the high jump, yet she was not allowed to compete in the Olympics.
Sexism in sport also applied in flying. She had difficulty getting her pilot’s license. She was banned from commercial flights because of her menstrual cycle.
After she married Lord Heath, she decided to fly solo from Africa, back to London in a bi-plane in 1928. For some time she was feted by the press for her achievements, but when on her third marriage she married a jockey who was black, she was dropped by society.
Tracey Curtis-Taylor was so inspired by her chutzpa, she decided to re-create her flight, which makes for a very exciting documentary, recently on BBC4. The Lady who flew Africa. 3 weeks left to watch.
Another woman difficult to classify is Baroness Greenfield’s role model. Rita Levi Montalcini: neuro scientist, Nobel prize winner, member of the Senate in Italy, and incredibly elegant.
“Life is not a short sprint , but a long journey. “ – Margaret Hodge
An English MP, Lady Margaret Hodge, believes it is not just possible, but necessary to have a wide variety of interests and activities. MBE, former head of the Public Accounts Committee, concert pianist, gardener and cook, with a tribe of grandchildren, a fighter for Equality. To be 70 this year, she also gives the lie to the myth of the burden of an aging population. Older, mature, experienced women and men have a massive amount to contribute to society. Look at Baroness PD James right up to her death at 92.
To which child care, career breaks and time out, are all aspects which enrich a positive contribution. Children are the future. Fiona Woolf, previously Lord Mayor of the City of London, has a variety of suggestions as to how women could be supported on maternity leave and as returners.
There are so many talented and inspiration women out there, past present and future. The shaping of the future is in our hands. Not just building a business but making a difference.
Since Malala, Michelle Obama, and the abduction of 200 girls, there is a heightened awareness and recognition of the importance of girls’ education. The Global Partnership for Education is the next step for the former Prime Minister of Australia, who asserts, that self belief is absolutely crucial for the times when you are under attack. As women, whatever our career ambitions we have ways to make a difference. So whatever you aim to do, somewhere along the way you, can encourage a girl or colleague, mentor or nurture self esteem, self belief.
We need more women in all walks of life. Our investment for the future. Who could you help?
As Madeleine Albright says: “There is a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women.”