Meet a remarkable woman, let’s call her Mia. She runs a successful business. She is also a mum to two fabulous girls. She is a very busy lady with a successful career and somehow manages to juggle everything that life throws her way. She is a real do-it-all modern woman and is not fully aware of the women, past and present, who have a daily impact on her life. However, occasionally it crosses her mind as it did today.
She starts her day with an invigorating hot shower not knowing that the first electric water heater was invented by IDA FORBES in 1917. Refreshed, she sits to drink a cup of filter coffee –MELITTA BENTZ, a German entrepreneur who invented the paper coffee filter brewing system in 1908 – may we all be forever thankful! Mia is in a hurry and spills some of coffee on the carpet, she is relieved that it is Scotchguarded and so repels water, oils and other liquids – PATSY SHERMAN. is the lady responsible for this genius stain-stopping invention. Before chasing the girls to get ready for school, she puts the breakfast dishes in the dishwasher – thank you to JOSEPHINE COCHRANE for this one. She then packs a breaktime snack for her girls – did you know that RUTH WAKEFIELD invented the chocolate chip cookie in 1938?
The girls are finally ready and look smart in their uniform, their wrinkle free cotton shirts – RUTH BENERITO clearly hated ironing as much as I do but had the knowledge to do something about it, as she invented easy care fabrics notably wrinkle-free cotton in1958. Mia is also pleased that she didn’t have to get out the ironing board – invented by SARAH BOONE.
The girls have fencing club that day, Mia worries about the girls’ safety and them getting hurt, she is pleased that the fencing clothing contains Kevlar – STEPHANIE KWOLEK invented Kevlar in 1965. It is an immensely strong plastic, first used in racing car tyres, and now used where high strength is required without high weight. With the girls safely at school, greeted by a smiling headmistress, Mia makes her way to work. As she drives, she is listening to the radio and THERESA MAY is talking about her time as Prime Minister and what she thinks about MARGARET THATCHER, Britain’s first female Prime Minister and KAMALA HARRIS, the first female vice president on America. She thinks back to EMMELINE PANKHURST , EMILY DAVISON , EVALINE BURKITT and other brave suffragettes – Mia Makes a note to herself to remember to vote in the upcoming local elections. Mia then ponders about other women who lead and considers the role and influence that QUEEN ELIZABETH II has had over the seventy years of her reign. Her mind wanders to BOUDICCA , queen of the British Celtic Iceni tribe who led an uprising against the occupying forces of the Roman Empire. – how brave was she!
Before long Mia has arrived at her office designed by ZARA HADID; she switches on her computer remembering that ADA LOVELACE is sometimes regarded as the first to recognise the full potential of a “computing machine” back in the 1840’s and was possibly the first computer programmer. She thinks also of GRACE HOPPER, a pioneer at the forefront of computer programming. Mia’s work involves a lot of calls today and the research of DR SHIRLY JACKSON who worked with subatomic particles enabled others to invent the portable fax, touch tone telephone, solar cells, fibre optic cables, and the technology behind caller ID and call waiting.
Mia leaves work early and goes to visit her friend, who is recovering in hospital, her treatment has been helped by recent great advancements led by ANN TSUKAMOTO in the 1990s in understanding the blood systems of cancer patients, which could lead to a cure for the disease.
On her way to collect the girls, it starts raining so Mia puts on the windscreen wipers – invented by MARY ANDERSON. and turns on the car heating – invented by MARGARET WILCOX.
When the girls get home they have an icecream – In 1843, NANCY JOHNSON patented a design for a hand-operated ice cream maker, a version of which is still in use today . Then they insist on a game of monopoly – invented by ELIZABETH MAGIE (but the idea was stolen and sold to Parker games by Charles Darrow) Mia is firm, they can only play games once they have taken Foxy, their pet dog for a walk so off they go to get the retractable dog lead – invented by MARY DELANEY.
“Have you any homework to do?” Asks Mia.
“Yes Mum, we have to research some women who invented things, but we don’t know where to start.”
“Well, there are just so many! But, nobody seems to know about any of them! I think I am going to find out more about ROSALIND FRANKLIN, she was a British biophysicist, and was the first person to capture a photographic image of the double helix of DNA in 1952, nicknamed “Photo 51″. It has been alleged that one of her former colleagues, Wilkins, showed this photograph, without her permission, to competitors Watson and Crick. This has forever associated their name to a discovery that was never theirs. I want to set the record straight!”
After a long and busy day, and the girls in bed, Mia settled herself down to watch her favourite film, “Hidden Figures” . She sat curled up with a glass of something delicious, wondering about the female involvement in the drinks industry
Teaching our girls that they are brave is an essential part of our parenting and our teaching. We have a duty to ensure that our girls do not become meek women who are afraid to voice their thoughts and ideas. My hope is that every girl will know that they have a voice, that it is powerful . I want them to be unafraid to use it. I aim for the girls in my school to be able to express clearly what they think, both when explaining their learning, but also their emotions, their dreams and ideas. I firmly believe that if we can instill this strength of will, and power of communication, in girls when they are young, there will be less chance that they will over-think and over-question their right to succeed; there will be fewer women held back by a fear of failure or Imposter Syndrome. There should be no space for female wallflowers to grow on office walls and nobody has the right to make any woman feel that they cannot or do not have the right to be heard.
Working with our girls we can help them to grow up to be bold, courageous, strong, ambitious, resilient, and assertive go-getters. These qualities should never be seen as gender specific, they are the key ingredients in helping our girls believe not only that “THIS GIRL CAN!” but, and more importantly, “THIS GIRL WILL“