Greater Expectations and assertive communication
‘Women can have it all as long as they do it all.’
This section is about how we want young women to realise that there is more to life than staying at home and being a mother, but that if you do want to be a full time mum, then that is a really important job too.
We want more young women to realise they can become the next top footballer, scientist, Prime Minister, or the best care worker, nurse or high school teacher.
It’s about having lots of choices and being brave enough to expand your dreams and then reach for them.
A great resource to explore expectations is the HIM book, download it here
Critical questions to explore with a group
1. What are women’s expectations today? Are these what are expected of women, or what women expect to do?
2. How have the expectations of women have shifted over time (or not)?
3. How can we as women have greater expectations?
4. Do greater expectations of women limit or advance? (e.g. should we have to be high fliers and why is motherhood alone seen as not a good enough choice?)
5. Is it ‘a confidence thing’/ assertiveness? (is it the responsibility of the women to be more assertive, or is it a consequence of sexism, and should society listen to women more rather than us having to chout louder?)
Quiz facts about women and expectations-
a. Do women earn 17 per cent more than men? (a. 17 per cent less)
b. Do women own half the world’s wealth? (a. women only own 1%)
c. Is this statement true?
Women can be killed across the world for Wearing make-up, going to the cinema, chewing gum, drinking water in the street, talking on the phone, having a man request a song for you on the radio, demanding a divorce, being raped, getting pregnant. (a. all of them)
d. Of the top 100 companies in the UK how many of them have a woman boss at the top? (a. one)
e. In the UK, what percentage of all volunteers are men? (a. 25%)
f. Fill in the blank. In the UK every ____ minutes a women is the victim of domestic violence? 2/3/10 (a.3 minutes)
g. What year was the first woman elected as an MP? (a. 1918, Constance Markiewicz is elected but is a Sinn Fein politician, so declined the position from Prison.)
h. What year was the first black women elected into parliament? (a. 1987 Diane Abbot)
What are women’s expectations today? Are these what are expected of women, or what women expect to do?
Divide group into 2 groups.
Group 1 to use magazines/ pictures/ newspapers to come up with a collage of what you (as young women) want to do in the world
Group 2 to use magazines/ pictures/ newspapers to come up with a collage what they think society wants women to do in the world
Feedback- each group presents their collage to the other group
Then put Group 1’s collage at the far end of the room, and at the other end of the room Group 2’s collage. Position both groups by Group 2’s collage.
Give each group 10 blank footprints to write on. They must write on these to show the ’steps’ to move away from the expectations society places on women (Group 2’s Collage) and towards their own aspirations (Groups 1’s Collage).
How the expectations of women have shifted over time (or not).
Case study from the herstory archive
Margaret Drabble was born in Sheffield in 1939 and spent time in Pontefract as a child due to the Second World War. After gaining a double first in English at Cambridge, she married and had three children at a young age. Her first novel A Summer Bird Cage was published in 1963. Writing became a way of combining motherhood and a career. Reflecting the lives and struggles of ordinary women, her novels broke new ground in the 1960s. Subjects for novels have included the mother/daughter relationship, abortion, childbirth, family life, women ageing and divorce. Her novels reflect the dramatic social, political and economic changes that have taken place over the last 40 years. Inspiration comes from memories, newspaper stories and life in general. She now lives in London.
Read it out. Ask the group (using this four stage focussed conversation)
1. What words or phrases stick out from the text?
2. What memories or associations to your own life, is there with Margaret’s life?
3. In a male description would it say ‘writing became a way of combining fatherhood and a career’? Why or why not? Can people have a successful career and have children, and does this make a difference if the person in question is a man or a woman?
4. What do you think this quote means: ‘women don’t have it all they just do it all’?
How can we have greater expectations?
Get people to think of the myths that there are about women that can restrict what women think they can do in the world, e.g. women aren’t good drivers.
Write these down on flipchart
Then get the group to think about where these myths come from
Ask these questions-
· Has anyone done any research to prove these things?
· Why might people want to believe the myth?
· Who benefits from people believing the myth?
· Why do we think the myth is not true?
· What is impact of de-bunking these myths on women?
An IDEA- invite in a guest speaker to come in and talk such as a women engineer, train driver, builder, Director of a company to show the young women that they too can do these things
5. Do greater expectations of women limit or advance (should we have to be high fliers and why is motherhood seen as not a good choice)
Have 9 pictures of women in different roles e.g. as a mother, a carer, a builder, a nurse, a politician, a businesswoman, a teacher. Ask the young women to place the pictures in order of the most important to the least important role. Then ask them why they have chosen to put them where they are. Ask them then to move the pictures so they are in order from who they think gets paid the most and who gets paid the least. Ask them if the line up and changed and why. Ask them why it is that if you important jobs you don’t always get paid a wage.
In 2 groups – Debate- why do mothers not get paid a wage to bring up children? One group has to say why they should get paid and the other has to say why they shouldn’t. Then whole group votes.