Girls shouldn’t expect to ‘have it all’ says school head

Author: By Alison Kershaw, PA

Schools need to teach teenage girls about the realities of juggling a career
with having children, and that life is more complicated than “having it
all”, according to Jill Berry, president of the Girls’ Schools Association

While it is “healthy” for girls to aim to have “a flash sports car with a baby
seat in the back”, they need to realise that they will face challenges and
have to make choices in life, she said.

Speaking ahead of the GSA’s annual conference in Harrogate next week, Mrs
Berry told the Times Educational Supplement: “They will need to realise that
there may be times when they might not want to work, or they might want to
take a lesser job because their priorities have changed. It is important
that they leave school at 18 with their eyes open.”

Mrs Berry said that girls should “stop beating themselves up” if they cannot
juggle a career with being a wife and mother at the same time.

“Your priorities shift, but you’re not selling out – you are facing reality
and trying to be realistic about what you can achieve and you should stop
beating yourself up about it,” she said.

Most women are unable to “keep all the plates spinning”, Mrs Berry, who is
also head of Dame Alice Harpur School in Bedford, said.

Message in recent years have led girls to expect that they can “have it all”,
but this has made life seem simpler than it is, she said.

But she said girls should still be taught that they can be independent and
compete with men in the workplace.

“When my pupils try to wind me up by saying they plan to marry a rich man to
support them, I ask them ‘what if he runs off with the au pair?”‘

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