Saturday, 25 April 2009

What do women want?

This is not a post about the trite film starring Mel Gibson of course, despite having seen it more times than I care to remember! In fact without even being struck by lightening Nick Marshall style, I have the answer. At least for one woman. Or in other words, what does my mother want?

I clearly remember being summoned into the office of the Headmistress of my grammar school. I was shortly to enter year ten, and had chosen my 'options', the subjects that would go on to make up my GCSE exams. Miss Revill, her of shelf-busom and matronly skirt fame ('that is not a skirt, it's a PELMET!') rejected my carefully ticked boxes as my mother sat by my side. Girls like me with 'half a brain' didn't take graphics (if the office had not been carpeted, I think she'd have spat after saying the word). I needed to select triple science, and another language and would go on to be a doctor or a lawyer. I wriggled uncomfortably, not experiencing the glow of pride my mother was at hearing her first born's stroppy teenage years might not automatically exclude getting a 'proper' job in the future. It was already too late. I never did get to do graphics, and drawing is still just a hobby.

My mum often referred to this conversation over the years, probing me gently for my plans. When I expressed a desire to work in radio, she was surprised (the salary of a journalist generally being fifty per cent less than that of a doctor or lawyer) but pleased when I secured my first job. My pride glow came when I climbed the steps to the five storey 70s monstrosity that is BBC Manchester every single day. Then, never one not to show interest in her daughter's future, a new maternal refrain started. 'Any jobs going at Woman's Hour?'

Whilst of course she was pleased that her eldest was enjoying a varied start to her career (except when my grandmother called her every other day to say she'd heard me on air, and to ask mum to remind me not to drop my aitches) I was no Sue MacGregor or Jenni Murray, and that was something that needed working on.

Ten years into my career, in middle management, the job comes up. Producer of Woman's Hour in Manchester. The timing is pitiful. I'm four months pregnant with my second child, and will be going on maternity leave in only another four. And that's being positive, health problems last time caused me to be signed off at 25 weeks. But how could I not apply? Not just for my mother of course, although I think she'd fly right up the chimney if I got it, but because it's a fantastic opportunity. Who wouldn't want to be part of a programme with a 60 plus year history, which can attract world leaders and celebrities for a Jane Garvey grilling and seamlessly segue into a feature on scented tampons?

So now, application submitted, fingers crossed for an interview, we're right back at the beginning again. As I listen to the Woman's Hour podcast and brainstorm programme ideas, what do women want?


b said...

Hope you get the interview, it is amazing how we are shaped by our parents, my mother had no ambition no work ethic, yet I am the complete opposite, I need to be busy all the time and am always on the look out for new projects. Good luck.

Mama B said...

Thanks b. My experiences with my mother are definitely colouring my own child-rearing decisions, I love her dearly, but hope I can be more accepting of T's choices.

Katherine said...

Oh wow!!! Everything crossed for you. Woman's Hour is one of my daily "sit down and cup of tea markers!" Love reading your blog and have tagged you in a tagging thing (no I've never done it before) find out the rules over at mine!

Mama B said...

Thanks for the lovely comment Katherine! I have everything crossed for an interview too. I will have a go at the tagging thing, I am relatively technically incompetent though, I so I can;t guarantee anything ;-)