Speeches, Interviews & Other Statements

Margaret Thatcher

Article for Daily Express ("What my daughter must learn in the next nine years")

Document type: Speeches, interviews, etc.
Source: Daily Express, 4 March 1960
Editorial comments: Item listed by date of publication. Reproduced with permission of Express Newspapers plc.
Importance ranking: Major
Word count: 839
Themes: Autobiography (marriage & children), Education, Higher & further education, Employment, Women

The Express inquiry … Parents—have you considered this yet?

* For every three places that exist in the universities for a boy, there is only one for a girl.

* There are more girls attending university every year. In 1958, 4,935 girls came down with a degree compared with 4,010 in 1948, and less than half that number in 1938.

astkl; In 1958, percentages were taken on the academic achievements of the men's and the women's colleges at Oxford and the women were clearly in the lead.

* The career period for the average man is considered to be from 30 to 65; for a woman it is from 21 to 28. But—

* More and more married women in all income groups now want to return to paid employment between 35 and 45—a new trend.

Margaret Thatcher earned the reputation of the most attractive M.P. on the day she was elected (for Finchley, Tory). She made another reputation with a brilliant speech introducing her Admission of the Press Bill. But today she writes not as an M.P. but simply as a mother who has the future of her six-year-old daughter deeply at heart.

What my daughter must learn in the next nine years

Carol ThatcherOur daughter Carol is six and a half years old. In the course of the next 15 or so years she will have to learn how to make a living and how to live. Girls, far more than boys, have to adapt themselves to changing circumstances.

Once he has embarked on a career a boy can regulate the course of his life to a greater extent than his sister can. To her there is one great unknown factor—marriage.

She may find a husband when she is in her teens or not until her thirties. She may have grown-up children by the time she is 40 or still be coping with toddlers. She may marry someone whose job takes him abroad a great deal, leaving her at home, or someone who runs his own business from the house.

Her husband may be a public figure, in which case she will have corresponding public duties to carry out as his wife. She may be widowed while young and find she has not only herself to support but a family as well. Any of these things may happen to my daughter.

How can I help her to face them? [end p1]

First I want her to have a good education. There are some things that remain a mystery throughout life unless they are learned at school.

If money were short and I had to choose between educating my son or my daughter, I would choose entirely on merit. (Except that Denis Thatchermy husband would probably insist that Mark ThatcherMark went to his old school.)

If Carol is bright enough I should like her to go to university. If I had to choose between sending her to a university or to finish abroad, I would choose the university every time, providing she could get in. I think languages are an asset, but not a qualification like a degree. And my husband and I would take her abroad during the holidays.

I don't want Carol to be taught too many practical subjects in her last years at school, but to learn academic subjects—yes, to slog away. The practical subjects should be taught quite young.

Secondly I shall see that Carol learns the domestic arts at home. Teaching manners and the social graces to a child of six and a half gives rise to alternate hope and despair. The nagging seems endless—but something must get through, for by all accounts the children behave better when they go out than they do at home!

I believe that a girl's appearance is very important for her self-confidence. She will do her best when she is looking attractive and knows it. She will want to wear make-up in her middle teens so I shall see that she is taught to use it properly.

I shall try to advise her myself, but I am sure she won't listen to me. If not. I shall send her to a teenage beauty centre. I believe they are excellent.

She is already fond of clothes and would far rather watch a fashion show on television than “Children's Hour.”

And I am determined to teach my daughter to be a good and economical cook. She loves good food and is always anxious to help with cooking and of course to scrape out the mixing bowl.

Thirdly I want my daughter to have a worthwhile career from which she will derive pleasure and satisfaction as well as profit. It is utterly wrong to regard a job as a stopgap between leaving school and getting married.

I shall try to persuade her to take a recognised course of training. I do not mean the three or four weeks required to learn modelling, nor the two or three months needed to learn the art of flower arranging.

I do not even mean a course in shorthand and typing.

I mean a two or three-year course that will qualify her for a profession like nursing or the law.

Alternatively, if she shows any business acumen, she will have to join a firm and work up from the bottom.

I hope my daughter will not marry too young, but that she will have the experience of earning her own living and spending her own income before marriage.

But I know one cannot go by the book, but by the person. I would never be dogmatic about bringing up children.

I am learning all the time how to bring up my own.