Short biographies of women in UK for whom a street (or more) is named; academic consideration of the impact of subliminal culturalisation, the lack of visible women, and its effect on individuals' self-perception and presentation for senior roles.
The Women in Street Names was launched at a talk I did on Irene Barclay, the first woman chartered surveyor, at the LSE in July. Although under the Harper Adams University and British Federation of Women Graduates (BFWG) banner, the word for people to volunteer names of streets has been spread far and wide and I have been delighted with the response. Purely selfishly, one of the unexpected consequences has been the links I have made with people who submitted a name or who simply said they didn’t know any streets to offer but could they be kept informed.
Before too long I intend to produce a book of (very) short biographies of as many women as possible. The interest of this, I hope, is that along with the likes of George Eliot, Enid Blyton and Florence Nightingale are women whose names or histories are generally less well-known, of local or obscure origin. Assuming life on distancing alters in the next year or so, I hope to have a couple of little events to launch the booklet - possibly one in London and one at Harper Adams University (Shropshire).
Along with the work on women’s biographies and local history, in the medium term I intend an academic paper on the impact of the relative paucity of women highlighted in public spaces and how this culturalisation may subliminally impact (or add to a range of impacts) on individuals’ self-perception and, consequently, their presentation for senior roles. In a recent Zoom event for the BFWG, Dame Mary Beard observed that when women, let alone men, are asked to picture a professor, they tend to think of a man (probably looking something like Professor Heinz Wolff - for those of certain vintage). You’ll be aware of the significant work done in recent years on women and, of course, race in statuary.
Problematic names, in terms of time available for research are single first names (which tend to be daughters or wives of land owners, builders or property developers) and local councillors, who are regularly honoured with a street. I embarrassed myself in an email by referring to ‘obscure local councillors’ only to have a wonderful note and list of names from someone who signed himself ‘Mr XXX (obscure local councillor)’ and with the request that he be permitted to forward my flyer to other obscure local councillors J
Please do let me have your own contributions, whether or not you know the background of the woman named.
Along with uncovering some interesting snippets about women across the UK , I hope there will be prompts for readers’ own further exploration.
British Federation of Women Graduates - : https://bfwg.org.uk/bfwg2/
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