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Monday, 22 September 2014

Bra-burning and bookworms

Bra-burning and equality at work were on the agenda at a 'book club-with-a difference' in Lancashire last week. The Bookworms are an enthusiastic group of professional women, from the historic town of Carnforth, who invited me to talk on Baggy Pant and Bootees (released in paperback this month.)

 Set between the Second World War and the 1960s, the book contrasts the misery of the post war years with the infamous 'swinging sixties' less than two decades later.

My memories of life in the chauvinistic world of provincial journalism in the late sixties prompted a surge of recollections in an afternoon discussion, reminiscent of TV's Loose Women. So how much has really changed for women in the workplace?

Back in the sixties, my first women's page features championed female lawyers, scientists and accountants who had managed to infiltrate a male-dominated world. 'Women CAN be a success in the workplace'  I proclaimed, with barely disguised glee. All this, where previously there had been fashion, food and flower arranging, a woman's staple reading diet.

 'Women have to be better than their male counterparts to succeed in the workplace even now' said one club member.

 How often have you read about a high flying female  professional suing her male boss  for 'unfair conduct?' I'm not talking here about sexual harassment, which is clearly a serious matter, but if women do want to work in high profile jobs,  equality has to work both ways. And a man or woman who earns over £100k a year  must also expect to work under pressure.

Most of the women at the meeting regarded equality in the workplace as the norm, but admitted that ingrained attitudes, especially in the older generations, are sometimes difficult to erase.

 The much-discussed bra-burning of the sixties  arose from a myth and has gone down forever in history. Meanwhile,  I am  still standing on my metaphorical soap box and burning my metaphorical bra. How about you?

Published by Amelia Press, Baggy Pants and Bootees is available from good bookshops and from here and here



Guernsey Girl said...
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anotherguernseyman said...

I remember the sixties, too. Women have achieved a lot since then, but I'm still not sure they regard themselves as equal!

Guernsey Girl said...

Some of us do! Thank for your comment, Mr Guernseyman.