Against All Odds: Pamela Freeman tells readers why women’s history is so important

Against All Odds: Pamela Freeman tells readers why women’s history is so important

Amazing Australian Women: Twelve Women Who Shaped History is released this month and here author Pamela Freeman shares with us why she believes these stories about women should be shared and celebrated.

Words || Pamela Freeman

Women’s history is important to us all – even boys! When I show Amazing Australian Women to people, so many say, ‘Oh, I must get that for my daughter/granddaughter/niece!’ Which is great – it is, indeed, a book which girls will love and be inspired by.  But I say back: ‘What about your son/grandson/nephew?’ And they laugh, and nod, and reply, ‘Yes! The boys need to read this too.’

And they do.

Why? Because women’s history has been systematically obscured, and that needs to be redressed. I would wager most adults will have heard of only half of the women in this book – and then it will be mostly older adults. Children are surrounded by information showing the achievements of men, but somehow the achievements of women don’t feature so much. Girls have an incentive to notice and seek out stories of great women – but boys have a disincentive in our culture, and we have to change that. How can boys grow into men who respect a woman’s abilities if they’ve never heard about women’s achievements?

Let’s take one example.

We’ve all heard of Charles Kingsford-Smith – but what about Lores Bonney, who was just as fine an early aviator? Maybe better – she did it all herself, without a navigator, flying solo to South Africa in a one-engined plane. The only person ever to do so. She was the first woman to fly from Australia to London. She held the long-distance flying record in Australia for most of the 20thcentury (in face, she may still hold it – I haven’t been able to find out if it was ever broken). Where’s the airport named after her? Where’s the bank-note with her picture on it?

I was privileged to meet Lores Bonney when I worked at the Powerhouse Museum, to which she had donated her memorabilia. She was an extraordinary person – she patted my hand and said, ‘My motto has always been: Don’t let them tell you you can’t do it.’ I adopted that as my motto on the spot!

If you ask a child (pretty much any child) to draw a picture of a pilot, they will draw a man. But maybe they would think twice if they knew about Lores Bonney. And maybe a girl would decide to be a pilot; and maybe the male HR manager of the airline would hire her.

So often, it is implicit bias which impedes women’s success – not that people set out to be sexist, but that they have unexamined assumptions deep in their minds which work against equality. Stories like those in Amazing Australian Women are needed to counter those assumptions.

‘Pilots are men’ (but – Lores Bonney!). ‘Scientists are men’ (tell that to Ruby Payne-Scott, one of the first radio astronomers). ‘Medical breakthroughs are made by men’ (Sr Kenny would disagree). ‘Great geniuses, especially artists, are men’ (Emily Kame Kngwarreye is one of the most highly regarded Australian artists ever).

I hope that Amazing Australian Women will help to lay down a new assumption in the coming generation of both boys and girls: that women can, and have, done extraordinary, wonderful, amazing things, throughout history – and continue to do so.

Purchase a copy of Amazing Australian Women | Read our review

Pamela Freeman has a Doctor of Creative Arts, has lectured in creative writing and won awards for children’s writing and biography. Pamela also writes for adults and her first adults fantasy The Castings Trilogy has recently been published. She lives in Sydney with her husband and son.

Related Articles

Remarkable Friendships: Better Reading on the Special Friendships Our Favourite Characters Shared

News | Book Life

15 January 2020

Remarkable Friendships: Better Reading on the Special Friendships Our Favourite Characters Shared

My Year of Reading Children's Books

News | Book Life

15 December 2019

My Year of Reading Children's Books

A New Year’s Resolution For Parents

News | Book Life

15 December 2019

A New Year’s Resolution For Parents

Great Books About Girls: Recommended by Zoe Norton Lodge

News | Author Related

5 December 2019

Great Books About Girls: Recommended by Zoe Norton Lodge

Favourite Fictional Pets

Kids & Ya

8 August 2019

Favourite Fictional Pets

Celebrate The Great Outdoors: Five Books for Nature Lovers

Kids & Ya

11 July 2019

Celebrate The Great Outdoors: Five Books for Nature Lovers

Friends, Loyalty and Family: Extract from The Good Thieves

Kids & Ya

9 July 2019

Friends, Loyalty and Family: Extract from The Good Thieves

Tempting Reluctant Readers: Read an extract from Charlie Changes into a Chicken by Sam Copeland

Kids & Ya

8 February 2019

Tempting Reluctant Readers: Read an extract from Charlie Changes into a Chicken by Sam Copeland

Loveable Hero Who Worries: Review of Charlie Changes into a Chicken by Sam Copeland

Kids & Ya

5 February 2019

Loveable Hero Who Worries: Review of Charlie Changes into a Chicken by Sam Copeland

Vibrant Storytelling: Review of the Amelia Chamelia Series by Laura Sieveking, Illustrated by Alyssa Bermudez

Kids & Ya

29 January 2019

Vibrant Storytelling: Review of the Amelia Chamelia Series by Laura Sieveking, Illustrated by Alyssa Bermudez

Pamela Freeman
About the author

Pamela Freeman

Dr Pamela Freeman is the award-winning author of more than 28 books. Her most recent book, published under the name of Pamela Hart, is The Soldier’s Wife (Hachette Australia), an historical novel set in World War I. For children, her most recent publication is the Princess Betony series published by Walker Books. Her new book for kids, Lake Eyre, is a non-fiction picture book due out in late 2015.Pamela also writes fantasy fiction for adults. She is best known for the Castings trilogy (published in the US, the UK, France, Spain, Portugal and Germany as well as Australia) and for Ember and Ash, winner of the Aurealis Award for best fantasy novel . Another children’s book, Victor’s Challenge, was published in 2009 in Australia and the UK and won the Aurealis Award for Best Children’s Fantasy.Pamela started as a children’s writer, and many of her books have been shortlisted for the State Literary Awards, the Children’s Book Council Book of the Year Awards, the Koala Awards and the Wilderness Society Environment Awards. Pamela – who is also an accomplished scriptwriter – taught creative writing at the University of Technology, Sydney for many years. She has also been a guest lecturer at the University of Sydney and taught writing workshops around Australia for the National Book Council and various state libraries. Pamela has a Doctor of Creative Arts in Writing from the University of Technology, Sydney.She has published numerous short stories and has spoken at various writers’ festivals around the country. Her most recent book for young adults, The Black Dress, a fictional account of the childhood of Mary MacKillop in the Australia of the 1840s to 1860s, won the NSW History Prize for Young People.

Books by Pamela Freeman

COMMENTS

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *