One of the problems with children’s television is that there are very few good role models for girls. Back in the day, when I was a child I didn’t watch much television. I had few role models, Wonder Woman being one (lol) and I played at being nurses and doctors. The usual stuff. However, I have always been into natural history. Since the moment I could toddle about I would go into the garden and hunt for snails, sniff flowers and sometimes pick them. Many happy hours were spent digging holes, trying to make rose water from petals and gathering together ladybirds to try to see how many species lived in our garden.
One summer we went on holiday to Lyme Regis. I have been back there nearly every year of my life hunting for fossils. This activity turned into a major hobby, geology evening classes and trips all over Britain and France to find particular fossils. Aged ten, I had an article published in Fossil Forum magazine on fossil birds. Obviously, all of this ran alongside my interest in archaeology which began when I was seven. However, my interests in palaeontology and archaeology have stood me equally in good stead when competing for jobs at various museums. As a result, I have been lucky enough to work as a curator at the Natural History Museum.
I was in part inspired by one particular woman, a Victorian Fossil Hunter called Mary Anning. I recall thinking how wonderful it would be to live her life, pacing the beaches of what is know called ‘The Jurassic Coast’ with my dog everyday. Recently there has been a great deal of interest in Mary Anning, Tracey Chevaliers fantastic novel ‘Remarkable Creatures’ and various children’s books including a fab one by the Anholts. If you are looking for a role model to introduce to your little girl, I would suggest that you find out a bit more about this woman. There are many aspects to her life which can provide interesting topics of conversation; poverty, determination, sexism amongst them. Much better than Dora the Explorer!
The BBC has just placed a little slide show about her on their website you can find it here