This week the President of the United States and Leader of the Free World came under yet more criticism for reportedly telling his female staffers to ‘dress like women’. Naturally, a deluge of Twitter responses quickly followed with female doctors, sportspeople, soldiers, racing car drivers and even astronauts posting pictures of themselves to show Donald Trump exactly what women wear to work.
This was all an important reminder to check our inherent bias, and I was ashamed to feel even a tinge of shock from seeing a picture of a woman wearing such heavy-duty uniform or holding a gun.
However, what I immediately noticed was how slim the response from women in non-uniformed careers has been thus far. And this, presumably, because they really do have to #dresslikeawoman every single day.
For the second instalment of Grad Talk, we spoke to Ruby Stewart-Liberty who recently graduated from Jesus with a degree in history. Now working for the Civil Service, here she shares her sparkling insights and pearls of wisdom on how to shine bright post-Cambridge.
So, what do you do now?
I’m a civil servant, on the Civil Service Fast Stream.
Describe a typical day.
My day begins by squeezing myself onto the tube at 8.20am. The heady days of walking through King’s to late morning lectures are long over. Aside from that, no two days are the same! I’ve been to training sessions in the Locarno Room at the Foreign Office, attended select committee hearings at the House of Lords and I get to travel across the UK for meetings with regional teams. I’m currently writing a communications strategy for an exciting project.
I began this term by taking part in my College’s telephone campaign. In the middle of a Monday evening shift, after a series of voicemails and call-back-laters, I had the surprise privilege of speaking to a feminist activist from the 1970s.
‘I’m not sure how interested you are in feminism’, she said, before recounting how she had put her career as a history professor on hold to join afeminist cooperative in London. Over the course of forty-five minutes, she shared with me her conception of feminism, particularly stressing the importance of female solidarity. Remarkably, this retired academic told me that ‘Angelina Jolie’s feminism is good because she fights for others – other celebrities use feminism for themselves’. Has feminism indeed been appropriated for selfish means, a tool for securing a few more thousand social media followers rather than a collective struggle for equality?
In a world where some sisters do seem to be literally ‘doing it for themselves’, the current Guerrilla Girls’ exhibition at the Whitechapel Gallery is an important reminder that girl power is alive, kicking and ready to complete the fight for equality.
January is all about looking forward. So, for any prematurely fatigued finalists unsure what the next chapter may hold, Girl Talk decided to interview our recently graduated female friends for some career inspiration and general words of wisdom about life beyond the bubble. For the first in our series, we spoke to banker-slash-baker Saliha Shariff, who graduated in 2016 from St. Catharine’s with a degree in Economics.
So, what do you do now?
I joined the grad scheme of a small investment bank in October – it’s a rotational scheme with a big focus on equity research.
Describe a typical day.
I get to the office just before 7am – we have a meeting every morning from 7:15 to 7:45, in which research analysts present their new research notes to others at the firm. I’m working on a small project of my own right now, so the rest of my day isn’t really too structured unless I have any other meetings. I spend the day reading articles and research papers, collecting and analysing data, and writing. Then I leave the office at around 6:30pm (with much-treasured lunch and tea breaks throughout).
Pass the milk tray. More than just a Christmas telly staple, Bridget Jones is a flawed feminist hero we can all learn a thing or two from, argues Kitty Grady.
The BBC Radio 4 Woman’s Hour Power List has established itself as a modern pantheon of female achievement and activism.
So, the inclusion of Bridget Jones into the list this year, which also included Margaret Thatcher, Beyoncé Knowles and Germaine Greer, created a small controversy, and not just because she’s a fictional character.
There’s certainly a case to say Bridget Jones is an anti-feminist figure. She is obsessed by her weight, getting on the scales multiple times a day. She flirts shamelessly with her lothario boss Daniel Cleaver, dreams of marital bliss with him and wears ‘sluttishly’ short skirts and see-through tops to the office in an attempt to achieve said bliss which she believes will be her happily ever after.
However, if we analyse her inclusionwith the specific Woman’s Hour Power List criteria in mind: women who have positively impacted and reflected female British life in the past seventy years, then Ms. Jones seems rather excellently placed.