Girls Need a Heavy Dose of Realism about Careers & Motherhood


According to the president of the Girl’s School Association (GSA), it may not be possible for teenage girls to play both the roles in life – a perfect mother and a career woman. Yes, there are clever girls who have high ambitions. Jill Berry, head teacher of Dame Alice Harpur School in Bedford, has a word of advice for teenage girls who aim high. She says that there is nothing wrong in taking up a part time job or not working at all when they have children.

Berry further says that schools need to prepare girls in advance for the challenges they will be facing in future. According to Berry, there is a large number of girls who want to have just everything. Yes, schools need to prepare teenage girls for this. But, at the same time, schools also need to make girls realistic about what they want to have in their lives. At different stages of life, girls may want to have different things.

“There is nothing wrong with them saying ‘I need to work part-time’ or ‘I need support in order to enable me to do my career and have children’, Berry says. Teachers at schools need to train and prepare girls to achieve what they aspire, but not target perfection. Girls need to be taught that life is all about balance. Unless schools teach this to teenage girls, they run the risk of betraying girls.

Today, girls need to be given top quality education. Girls should be prepared in such a way that they can generate options for themselves to maintain balance both in the workplace and at home. Girls are facing reality. Therefore, they need to very realistic about what they want to achieve in life.

Harriet Harman, the minister for women, said last month at the Treasury select committee inquiry, Women in the City, “the change we need is the change which recognizes that for women to take time out with a young baby or to work flexible or part-time hours on return from maternity leave is going to be the actual way of the future”.

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