One of the aims of our project is to dispel the negative stereotype of the Essex girl and the girls and young women I’ve met through this work certainly confirm that the horrible and sexist stereotype of ‘dim’ Essex girls couldn’t be farther from the truth!
Early on I met with members of the Guides and Girls Brigade to ask for their help in steering the direction we were going in and setting our themes.
They came back with a range of ideas for us and it was clear that today’s Essex girls are interested in human rights, women scientists and engineers, women in the services, women who served in wartime, and those who worked undercover.
The girls and young women have a strong sense of fairness and want to know WHY women couldn’t be treated as equals to men both now and in the past. The idea of women doing the same jobs as men and getting paid less amazed them and the continuing gender pay gap infuriates them. They admire women who stand up for women’s rights and want to find out more about them.
Photographs from the Essex Police Museum prompted an interesting discussion around the uniforms worn by the WPCs. The girls pointed out how restrictive the clothes would have been and how far they would have limited the women – ‘they couldn’t chase anyone wearing that!’ This led to a conversation about how clothes and fashions had limited girls and women and they came up with some great ideas for practical activities for people to try at our events to show how it would have felt to wear the clothes that women were expected to live and work in over the years.
Stereotyping angers these girls and although some of them like pink they want to make it clear that pink is not always a girls’ colour! They want choice and they want to challenge prejudice and stereotypes and are interested in talking to women who have fought for their rights.
These girls and young women have a strong sense of pride in the place they live and want to celebrate women who are important in their local communities.
You can hear their own voices on the GENE radio show- I was interviewed for the latest programme.
These girls are proud to be Essex Girls