Last weekend I spent an inspirational day back at The Natural History Museum courtesy of Trowelblazers. The day was organised with the aim of trying to get some more female scientists essentially archaeologists and palaeontologists onto Wikipedia. I learnt loads about editing Wikipedia and I’m keen to help populate the on line encyclopedia. Something which anyone can do and everyone should have a go at because we all have something to offer!
We were also treated to the most amazing display of fossils collected by some remarkable women. Essentially those whose biographies on Wikipedia we were trying to improve. Women such as Mary Anning, Dorothea Bate and Dorothy Garrod were represented. Bringing together letters, photographs and fossils is a fabulous way of bringing to life the contributions these women made and tells you a little bit about their lives instantly.
The reason why I am writing here about the day is because I read endless blog posts and tweets about how there are very few good female role models out there. I honestly don’t think this is the case at all. I’ll admit that little girls are bombarded with Disney Princess and Dora, but in a sense that is only if you let them. My little girl has never been that fascinated and has certainly never viewed either as a role model. This is probably because she has brothers and so gender actually isn’t an important thing in our household. It’s all about survival of the fittest in our house, but also about the value of peoples contribution.
However, I will say that one of the things I have probably unconsciously done is to read to them stories of pioneering women. Where possible I’ve shown them photographs and we have gone on hunts around museums to find artefacts related to these women.
I guess it started when I found a few children’s books about Mary Anning whilst visiting the Philpot Museum. Since we love fossil hunting at Lyme Regis this was an obvious person to begin with and from there my children’s interest has developed.
When you start looking there are hundreds of women out there who have done some really amazing things and lead the most wonderful lives. I’ve recently introduced my children to my research for the museum I used to work at on women who excavated in the 1930’s. Some of these ladies were remarkable and went on to have very influential careers in middle Eastern Archaeology. You cant fail to be interested in pictures from far off exotic places in far off times which is precisely what you can show the children. I’ve used these images as starting points for all sorts of activities from story-writing and telling through to art.
So, if you are looking for some new role models for girls then I suggest that all you need to do is check out the amazing Trowelblazers blog here. If any of our daughters can do half of what some of these women did they will have very interesting lives indeed.