ATTICUS looks at
THE WOMEN IN OUR LIVES
With every day that passes women are facing a keener dilemma. It is this. More and more of them are getting married and having families; more and more of them are getting to the top of their professions. How can the two be reconciled?
“Being a woman and intelligent,” someone said to me last week, “is an impossible predicament.” It was, of course, a man who was speaking. Still, when I look around at all the extraordinary and accomplished things women were doing in Britain last week, I couldn't help hoping that domesticity would not prevail in the end.
Take Miss Pat Hornsby-Smith, for instance. At forty-five, she is the youngest woman, and only the fifth altogether, to be a Privy Counsellor.
Men Prefer Men, But——
I asked her why it was that there were no more women M.P.s (there are only twenty-five in this Parliament against twenty-eight in the last). “The real problem,” she told me, “is to persuade women to adopt a woman candidate. One can understand why men prefer men, but not why women do.”
She has only one real sport—swimming—and enjoys food and wine: “though one doesn't like to say so because all the women's organisations will think I'm degenerate straight away.”
The New Girl
But she, of course, is unmarried. For thirty-three-year-old Mrs. Margaret Thatcher, the new Conservative M.P. for Finchley, the choice is more difficult. How much time should she give to being mother, barrister, or M.P.? She has decided to carry on as a mother—assisted by a nanny to look after her six-year-old twin boys—and to do her best as an M.P. “Because as a new girl we're not allowed out much.” But she will, she tells me, accept fewer briefs in the future.
What about the Foreign Service? Here things are even tougher for women. There are only fourteen in “A” Branch—the diplomatic branch—against some 700 men. One year, forty-nine would-be women diplomats sat the entrance examination; none passed. But one who did was Miss Kathleen Graham, C.B.E., now at fifty-five years old the most senior British woman diplomat. She is just preparing to take up a new post as Consul-General in Amsterdam after more than four years as Deputy Consul-General in New York.
‘I'd Be Against’
Mrs. Joanna Kelley, the new Governor of Holloway Women's Prison, made one remark which struck me as particularly feminine. She says she is unable to make up her mind about capital punishment: “But if I were at a prison where executions were carried out, I am sure I would be against it.” She is tall, smart, very feminine, and looks much more like the editor of a glossy magazine than a prison governor.
‘This is David’
Not many women can be governors of prisons, but they can increasingly be heads of universities. Last week, for instance, Oxford passed a decree which will allow women in future to be Vice-Chancellors—though the first one can't be appointed for seven years.
The woman who would make the best Vice-Chancellor, according to one Oxford girl I know, is Dame Janet Vaughan, the Principal of Somerville. Vaughan is her maiden name; she is married to Mr. David Gourlay.
Nobody at Somerville knows much about him, but when she has freshers to tea she points nonchalantly to a big, friendly man in an armchair and says: “this is David.” She has two [end p3] grown-up daughters, and is the only married woman head of a college.
She is tall, with a ready, rather nervous smile, and very shy. This gives a misleading impression of vagueness; in fact, she is a brilliant medical authority who ran a blood transfusion depot at Slough during the war. She went to Belsen in 1945 with a team of doctors and was later appointed by the Government to report on public health in India.