Sarah Sands: The sky's the limit for our daughters

Share
Related Topics

At a party last week for London's 1,000 most influential people, Rachel Whetstone, of Google, noted there was something unusual about the gathering. "Where are all the women?" she murmured to me.

The visible evidence of the paucity of women in public life is often obscured by media representation. Pictures of women are chosen over pictures of men, because they often look more interesting. This is not true of senior jobs, or salaries where men are disproportionately rewarded. A cheering dimension of the published BBC salaries is that BBC women must be lifting the female national average salary by several hundred per cent.

A cartoon appears in the current edition of the New Yorker of an all- male panel addressing an audience. The chairman reads from his notes "The subject of tonight's discussion is: Why are there no women on this panel?" Not only are we stalling in the promotion of women, I wonder if we are actually going backwards.

These gloomy thoughts have been dispelled by my favourite redhead since Elizabeth I. Flight Lieutenant Kirsty Moore has at 32 burst on to the skies, trailing scarlet smoke, the first female member of the Red Arrows. If anything can unite this country in pleasure and wonder, it is the sight of jets swooping and circling in stunning formations. In the summer, I sat on a gridlocked M5, with squabbling children and the windows steamed up against the relentless drizzle outside. Then we heard the roar from the skies as the Red Arrows practised over Bristol and we laughed in exhilaration. I am sure the flypast must be the Queen's favourite birthday treat. I would ask for one every day if I were in her place.

What I love about Kirsty Moore is her joyful feminism. Work is a celebration of something that delights her. She looks so healthy and happy. Her responses to questions about her pioneering achievement were adorably modest and optimistic. "I know from outside it looks like a big deal, but for me it's a bit of a timing thing. Someone was going to do it sooner or later and I guess I am lucky enough that it was me." Well, yes, in the same way that votes for women were "a bit of a timing thing" or the first female Prime Minister was a "timing thing".

When Hillary Clinton suspended her presidential campaign, she gracefully alluded to its mistiming. "Although we weren't able to shatter that highest, hardest ceiling this time, it has got about 18 million cracks in it" she told her 18 million supporters.

It might only have been a matter of time until a woman became a pilot of fabulous skill and daring but it was likely to be a daddy's girl. Kirsty's father, Squadron Leader Robbie Stewart, was shot down in Iraq, held captive and tortured. He refused to give any information and later was appointed an MBE. It is refreshing that a 13-year-old girl can emulate him.

"The girl thing is an aside for me because I have been a female all my life and I've been a pilot since joining the RAF," Kirsty says.

Sometimes I wonder if it is patronising to celebrate every first woman. But female achievement still lifts my heart. Daughters need reminding that barriers are self-inflicted. They can reach for the skies.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Customer Accounts Executive

£14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity for the ...

Recruitment Genius: Team Administrator / Secretary - South East

£14000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Full time Administrator/Secreta...

Recruitment Genius: Parts Advisor

£16500 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the leading Mercedes-Ben...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer

£27500 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Errors & Omissions: a duchess by any other name is just wrong

Guy Keleny
A teenage girl uses her smartphone in bed.  

Remove smartphones from the hands of under-18s and maybe they will grow up to be less dumb

Janet Street-Porter
Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor