Saturday, November 06, 2010

Guest Post: Margaret Thatcher (Awesome Women)

A huge thank you to Rachel Cotterill, who answered my call to write a guest post about the women who inspire. Rachel chose to write about living in England under Margaret Thatcher as PM and I seriously love this post. Imagine inspiring a nation of girls that they CAN do anything? I can't thank you enough, Rachel, for this lovely guest post!

I can recall very clearly the first glimpse I had, as a child, into the workings of politics. I was seven years old and we were doing art at school. I don't remember what I painted, but I do remember reading the pages of newspaper that were spread out to protect the tables. Margaret Thatcher had stepped down, and the race was on to find a replacement. Profiles of the would-be leaders filled the columns.

I was fairly oblivious to parties and policies, but this was news worth noting: all the candidates were male. For the first time in my young life, it was about to happen that a man was running the country.

Almost everyone in the UK has strong opinions (whether good or bad) about Thatcher and the changes she brought about. For me, having a woman in Number 10 was the key point; her politics were secondary. I grew up believing that anything was possible. For all the stories I'd heard of sexism and discrimination, I knew that I could run the country if I wanted to: look, there was another woman doing it right now. I really believed the glass ceiling had been smashed.

And it wasn't just that she was the Prime Minister. Along the way, she'd taken on a number of traditionally male careers, graduating in chemistry and then training as a barrister. As I dreamed of being a theoretical physicist or a high court judge (okay, maybe I was a strange child!), that knowledge always hovered in the back of my mind. There aren't that many strong female role models in the sciences, and certainly very few who are visible in the media where scientifically-inclined girls can stumble upon them.

In the end I took a different path (via classics and linguistics into computer science), and I don't think I'll ever be Prime Minister, but it's nice to know that I could. I can't help wondering about the role models we're giving today's young girls, when even broadsheet papers insist on commenting on the Home Secretary's choice of shoes. Because whatever you thought of Thatcher, at least she's remembered for her policies, not her fashion sense.


  1. Thanks for giving me the idea - I enjoyed writing this for you :)

    I'll put something on my blog today to send everyone across...

    Rachel x

  2. Got yr link via Rachel's great blog - and so glad I did! Such an interesting post - I'll be back again soon!

    Have a lovely weekend!

    XOXO Lola & Nora:)

  3. Great post!
    I agree that today women politicians are always noted for their fashion or diets rather than their policies, as if women were only good for shopping and dieting.
    Makes me mad!

  4. Growing up in Britain at the same sort of time, I actually saw the country as being led by *two* women: Margaret Thatcher and the Queen.

    (Confusingly, they had the same hairstyle.)

  5. Loved this piece - having watched my daughters when Australia got its first female prime minister; the first woman creates a wonderful sense of possibility in a girl.

  6. stopping here from Rachel's blog - very inspiring post :-)

  7. Hi
    Got here from Rachel's blog..

    As you say, at least she's remembered for policies and not frivolities!

  8. That is so true. You never hear people reporting about male politicians' hair styles or wardrobes, but they attack Sarah Palin. It's not as if she doesn't give them plenty of legitimate material to report.

    Great choice. She is an excellent role model.

  9. I will keep my opinion of Lady T to myself. After all I arrived in London with Labour newly come to power in 1997 so I've only been able to experience her politics through other people's opinions. But I did like Rachel's last line about T being remembered for her way of governing Britain and not for her sense of fashion.

    Well done, Rachel. Many thanks.

    Greetings from London.

  10. This is so interesting to read, I suppose I was influenced by her in a similar way. I took having Maggie as PM to be normal, I don't remember her getting elected, I just remember her being there and it seemed normal to me. So I never grew up with the idea that the PM should be male.

  11. Nice, I love Rachel's writing, and am glad she did this piece. Gives me something to think about. Not sure we give political women the rise they deserve here in the US.

  12. What an absolutely LOVELY response to this post! Another huge thank you to Rachel!

    Rachel - thanks, LOADS of your readers came by to say hello :)

    Nora - You as well, thanks for stopping by! :) And it really was a wonderful post.

    Caroline - It infuriates me as well!

    Anonymous - HA about the hair comment. Growing up in America, I didn't have that same experience :( I wish I had.

    travellersyarn - It really is a wonderful message to give to girls!

    carma - glad you came by! :)

    Rachel - That's right, it's important.

    Jen - Excellent, tying it in with Sarah Palin, who yes, doesn't need the extra attention to her wardrobe when so many other things are going wrong.

    Cuban in London - Yes, it's not really about her policies, but about the inspiration to young girls.

    JadeLd - See, I wish that that could have happened for me. I think it's lovely.

    Chef E - I'm really glad Rachel did the post as well! It is certainly something to think about.


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