'I don't think women can ever win'

23rd January 1998 at 00:00
Nerys, 38, has been teaching for 11 years

I don't mind giving things up if I don't feel I can take them on. So I don't mind not being a deputy head. I wouldn't have time for the children and I wouldn't have time to do anything else if I was pushing for that kind of career programme. It may change when my kids are at school. I don't see my job as a ladder, but as something that fits round my life and enhances my life.

Valerie, 48, secondary head

I had a year off when I had my daughter. Then I did two years part-time. In that year off, there was no challenge. I thoroughly enjoy my life in teaching. I still don't regret anything but if I was melodramatic about it I would say I've sacrificed my marriage. At least two female members of staff are on the promotional ladder. I don't mind being a role model. But I have warned both about the cost of what they're doing.

Joan, primary deputy head

I have tended to look at my job as less important than my husband's. Ten years ago we would have automatically moved house if he got promotion. Now we would look at any move in relation to the other one. I want a headship and we've decided that if I'm the one who's keen that's the one we'll go with.

Nancy, 54, primary head

At one job I went for, the school clerk - a woman - said in a loud voice:

"I think women with young children should be at home." Then I had to go in and be interviewed.

Laura, 46, FE lecturer with a partner at home

When my children were small I went back to work full-time and Martin stayed at home. It nearly tore me apart. I couldn't handle not being with them except for half-an-hour in the evening. It seemed crazy. I didn't want to be at home full-time but I didn't want to be at work full-time either.

Catherine, 46, infant head

I don't think women can ever win. You can't be a successful mother and a career person at the same time. It's unfair to lay it at the woman's door but I'm afraid that's the way it is.People try to have a career and a young family. And we have a lot of children in school who have difficulties because of that.

Kath, primary head

I know the children have suffered, and I know that's wrong. John and I have shared everything in terms of bringing up the kids. But I still feel guilty sometimes. Then again, I couldn't have given them as much if I'd been brain-dead. I've been constantly challenged and alive.

Ray, primary head

Most women, whether they be class teachers, deputy heads or heads, when they finish work will go home and run a family, and men don't. My wife is a working mum. I like to think I take my part but she's the one who does the shopping. I don't even know how the central heating works.

Interviews conducted by researchers for the Women's Careers in Teaching project

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