This week’s guest post on Education comes from the lovely Lila from Little Wolff. The more I know Lila, the more we find out how much we have in common. From backgrounds in hairdressing, to raising children generations apart, to tackling crazy renovations Lila is a kindred spirit and I am honoured to have her share her story with me. Make sure you pop over to Lila's blog and Facebook page and give her lots of love.
Educating women post - Why (some) women fail at education.
There are many wonderful different stories of paths to study success that others have to share with you, but that’s not my story.
The first time that I put my study aside was surprisingly not when I became a single mum at 17 but a couple of years earlier when I left school for an apprenticeship that turn out not to be as secure as it had appeared. I returned to high school and continued my pattern of unease and briefly left home and school again ending up pregnant and back at home at 16. Pregnancy didn’t stop me studying but once Miss P arrived between adjusting to a baby and the expectations at home it all seemed too much, within six months I’d entered the workforce and study was shelved.
In the years since then I’ve started studying and have completed several small stints of study and certificates but when I’ve attempted degrees I’ve lasted six months maximum, and it’s not because I’m a bad student I achieve quite high grades.
My story is one of repeated unfulfilled attempts to study and while that’s most likely not an inspiring tale to tell I think that failure is also an important part of opening up the conversation around educating women.
Support: It was around the third year of high school that I realised that my parents weren’t willing to support me through university. I’m not saying that women studying need full financial backing or to be cared for to be successful. But the fact of the matter is that to go to university I would have had to move a minimum of 400kms from home, find and finance accommodation, transport and living costs (my mother earned too much for me to be eligible for government support and being declared independent was also a difficult process). It seemed an insurmountable challenge and so I mentally shifted gears and stopped wanting an academic future for myself, thinking that way caused me to believe there was no point in doing well (or even attending school). If there’s anything to be offered from my experience it’s that telling and showing the women in your life that you are willing to support them (emotionally even if you can’t assist financially) in achieving their dream is paramount in them keeping that dream alive.
Self-sacrifice: It’s natural to me to put my needs aside for the greater good of my family. Except it’s not natural, as women we are trained from birth to sacrifice our desires to fulfil the expectations of others. Each time I’ve attempted study it’s placed our family under financial strain and as such I’ve left to ensure that my family have a more comfortable life, so that they don’t have to go without. For women to be truly equal in access to education we need to teach them from young girls that their needs and desires are valid and just as important as those of others around them.
Recognition: I’m not saying that women should get more recognition for studying than men, but to break through the social conditioning that is so common and achieve whatever goals they may have does need to be celebrated. Some reassuring that they are doing something important and recognition of this struggle to those who are in the midst of studying could be what they need to keep pushing through and finish. Recognising that finishing is just the beginning of the struggle for women in many industries and letting them know you have faith in their ability might be just what they need to put that education into action and break through the many barriers that still exist for women in the workplace.
Take it from me a little encouragement, some love and maybe some babysitting or a meal if you can manage it could be the supporting the girls and women in your life need while pursuing their education dreams.
Please Note: Images and words are Lila's unless otherwise indicated