It’s the morning after International Women’s Day and I want to take a few moments to reflect. In 2016 and 2017 I spent time preparing blogs celebrating my colleagues and women who led the way in my field. I could be writing about the “Women of the Ventilator” who choose to carve out a space in the House of Commons. I could be writing about my incredible colleagues in archaeology, the Audiolab, History, or commercial archaeology. I could celebrate the achievements of my friends who have done amazing things this year; securing jobs at 30 weeks pregnant, escaping controlling relationships, forcing change in government policy to name a few. I should be celebrating the these things, reflecting on the drive towards social change this year seeing #metoo #timesup the calling out of manels, the gender pay gap.
I come from a privileged background, there is no escaping the fact I’m a white middle class woman with the “right” accent. Not only this I was also raised with a strong belief that I could pursue any career I choose and my gender would not hold me back. This came from both my home life; a mother who worked as a computer programmer, a grandmother who taught maths, GP’s, PhD’s to name a few. But also my school, yes the local comprehensive, which while not offering particularly helpful career advice did not put forward any suggestions that I should or should not follow any particular road.
But this year I’m struggling. For the first time, at age 29, I’m really struggling. For the first time someone has directly suggested that the combination of my age and gender would mean they wouldn’t employ me. For the first time I feel my own agency has been taken away and my body is being policed. Because at 29, recently married, I’m high risk because I *might* want to start a family.
2018 is about believing that what i’m doing is the right thing and that change will happen. I need to renew my energy for the fight, because i’m struggling to see progress at the moment and we need to see those changes. I need to believe that what i’m doing now will lead to a career and I will not be sidelined because of my body or gender.