Friday, March 4, 2011

Spitfire Women

In various countries around the world March is Women’s History Month and it seems more important than ever for young women in particular to learn about the struggles and challenges that beset earlier generations in order to achieve rights for women. The right to vote and equal pay are standard now in most Westernised societies, but even there, there are still many careers and professions where women remain in a minority or are unrepresented.
On Australian ABC television this week, this report on the Royal Australian Air Force's need to find women fighter pilots indicates one area where women have yet to break the gender (if not sound) barrier.
If women during World War II proved themselves capable of flying Spitfires, Hurricanes and Lancaster bombers in often harrowing situations, one would have thought by 2011 it would have become normal to have them flying modern fighter jets. 

The BBC documentary "Spitfire Women" should be compulsory viewing for any young women interested in flying as a career.
There is also a recent book on the subject by Giles Whittell, "Spitfire Women of World War II". 
What an inspiring group they were.
And what is astonishing - and a little frustrating - is that it has taken more than half-a-century for the contribution of these women to become better-known but it also proves that women in all fields of endeavour still have a long haul ahead in making their history as valid as anything their male counterparts achieve.
Here are some links relating to Women's History Month.

Women's History Network (UK)
Women's History Forum (Australia)
National Women's History Project (US)

And for anyone interested in reading unusual and interesting stories from women's history at any time of the year, the magazine Herstoria is excellent and highly recommended. If not available in stores where you live, you can subscribe online and save trees!


1 comment:

Kate Lord Brown said...

Thanks for a great post - both the documentary and book are absolutely superb, as you say.