Girls still seen as homemakers - Girls' Schools Association head

Girls studying Girls should be aware they have choices, says Mrs French

Related Stories

Girls are still being brought up to believe that raising children is more important than their own ambitions, the president of the Girls' Schools Association has said.

They should be told that they have freedom to make different choices if they want to, says Hilary French.

Despite women's educational achievements, they are still expected to be the homemaker, she says.

Women are now more likely than men to go to university in the UK.

Mrs French, who is also the headmistress of Central Newcastle High School, told the Press Association news agency the school sometimes invited business leaders and entrepreneurs in to talk to students.

"One of the young entrepreneurs, a lady, dared to say that she had probably put her business ahead of her son, and the sharp intake of breath from all of the girls was audible," she said.

"They were all absolutely shocked, so yes, we are still creating a generation of girls who think that the whole idea of looking after children is really the most important thing, once you have a child."

The GSA leader said that was an issue for ethical and moral debate - and a very personal decision.

"But, what's maybe less personal, and maybe more incumbent on us as leaders in girls' schools, is to try and get girls to see that it is a decision, and that there are options, and that it's not wrong, and that's where society needs to come into play as well," she said.

"It's not wrong to make a particular decision, whatever it is."

'Caring men'

Mrs French added that it was "probably still the assumption" that women would deal with childcare.

"We do still expect women to be at the core of the relationship, the homemaker, the person who brings up children and thinks about what everyone's going to eat every day. It's still, I think, unusual to find a man doing that."

However, Mrs French said she was also "quite struck" that today's young men were "very caring and do want to have children and do have an affinity with children".

Commenting on planned changes to England's exams system, Mrs French said she supported the principles of the plans "to make the system more rigorous and fit for purpose".

But she raised concerns about the idea of scrapping GCSEs in core academic subjects and replacing them with new English Baccalaureate Certificates (EBCs).

EBCs in English, maths and science are due to be introduced in autumn 2015, with the first exams being taken in 2017. EBCs in history, geography and foreign languages are due to be brought in later.

Mrs French said EBCs could "make a failing system more complicated and possibly more prone to absolute collapse in the end".


More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites


This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
  • rate this

    Comment number 242.

    My partner gave up a career in law, to care for our children. I also had an opportunity to pursue a challenging work curve to higher positions of salary and responsibility when the children were young – but at the expense of time. I chose to keep my time, work regular hours and spend time ‘with’ my partner to raise our children.

    Now we have two happy, bright and wonderful teenagers!

  • rate this

    Comment number 241.

    My wife is a homemaker. I personally have no problem working less if she would wish to work and share the load. Undoubtedly, this is the most important and demanding job (sorry all other professionals who have their heads full of themselves).

    The problem is not that women should be homemakers but rather that we culturally assume that women and only women ought to do this job!

  • rate this

    Comment number 240.


    fed and clothed being the oberative word.
    if you are raising children then you should be able to pay for them, what ever it takes within reason.

    child care costs are not an issue - if they were I would be in serious trouble, but two sets of wonderful grandparents are the best gift for any parent and child.

  • rate this

    Comment number 239.

    214. Aduphanel
    Glad im happily single bloke and always have been at age 43.


    BE WARNED - - - SO WAS I - - up to the age of 52 - - - Women are like the Inland Revenue - - they catch you in the end - - and when they do, boy does it cost!

  • Comment number 238.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 237.

    Top five regrets of the dying:

    ...and number one IS...

    1. I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

    taaa daaaa !

  • rate this

    Comment number 236.

    at 232
    they will never tire of that :)

  • rate this

    Comment number 235.

    Most 'jobs' - which is what they are . . are not particularly rewarding, even the better paid ones.

    And if you have some kids, it's to big deal to other people. You're not the first person to have children.

    But you can't realistically be a 60 hour a week board member and a mother to 3 kids.

    Something will miss out.

  • rate this

    Comment number 234.

    Incorrect...most of the people on builders yards making homes, are men.

  • rate this

    Comment number 233.

    We as a Family (husb grandparents and mother) decided that for the good of our children and their future that a stable home of a 'parent' being there when you leave and when you return from school is the best gift! What we do for our childrens future can't be measured its Infinity. Isn't bringing a child into the world and making sure they are educated, cared for, loved and fed the best Career!

  • rate this

    Comment number 232.

    Female Forbes journalist:
    ' seems I can’t have a conversation with a women’s expert without hearing the phrase “opting out.” “30% of women will opt out of the workplace during the course of their career,” they tell me. “How can we ever expect to make progress when so many women opt out before they reach the truly high-powered jobs” ...'

    Are women tired of proving a point?

  • rate this

    Comment number 231.

    A lot fo the problems seem to occur because in many cases the poor need to have two incomes to be able to afford housing (with knock-on effect possible on bringing up the children). Also those in power pay lip service to bringing up children but penalise those who do (possibly because they don't understand how things are different for people not like them)

  • rate this

    Comment number 230.

    In the 80's women wanted to have a high powered job, in the 90's women got the high powered job because it was their lifestyle choice. in the 00's women worked because there was no other option.

  • rate this

    Comment number 229.

    @225 lloydfoxe

    When childcare costs come near to one salary, what's the point?

    I suspect that excessive mortgages and lifestyle may be one factor to why some would justify the need for to both work. It is about choice, but surely parents should take a longer term view of things rather than wanting everything now?

  • rate this

    Comment number 228.

    I think the point the article is making is that girls are expected to put having a family above any other ambitions. As a young woman, my desire not to have children is met with disgust and disbelief by nearly everyone in my life. Some girls will want a family, some will not. What's important is that we empower girls and boys to make these choices for themselves, free of tradtional gender roles.

  • rate this

    Comment number 227.

    Also that it's a girls fault if she gets pregnant (as thought boys had nothing to do with it). Homemaker is just fine as a life, but it shouldn't be the main suggestion; pretty much everything cultural will push and point girls into that role.

  • rate this

    Comment number 226.

    Interesting that Mrs French - President of the Girls' Schools Association is actually criticizing her own failure. I am also surprised she values being a homemaker less important that an income earner.

  • rate this

    Comment number 225.

    Staying at home and looking after the children would be luxury these days. Both parents have to work to stay a float unless they find themselves living on benefits.
    So women have to work and do most of the work at home aswell. not fair on the children, the women and even the men, but a sad reflection on modern life

  • rate this

    Comment number 224.

    Raising children IS THE MOST IMPORTANT career a woman can have, lets face it, can we trust men to do it as well as we can? No.Yes its sexist and as a woman I shouldnt dare say it, but its true, equally true is that most women wouldnt make very good lumberjacks or coal miners.The govt only want this to change so they can get ALL women working to bring in the tax and to hell with normal family life.

  • rate this

    Comment number 223.

    I am fed up of people having a go at women who have decided to return to work after maternity leave. It's not always about 'having it all' it's about making a choice. If a woman (or man) wants to give up work to take care of their child then good for them but don't try to turn on a guilt trip on others who returned to work because you didn't.


Page 1 of 13


More Education & Family stories



BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.